Cannibis on Wednesday’s council agenda

Cannibis on Wednesday’s council agendaBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council will have its second reading and public hearing of its proposed ordinance for a ban on all commercial cannabis activity within the city.

If the ordinance were approved, the city would be following in the steps of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, who banned commercial activity last month.

Acting Police Chief Jed McLaughlin summarized during the council’s last meeting that while Proposition 64 made the adult use of – and personal, indoor cultivation (up to six plants) of – cannabis legal, local jurisdictions were left to determine the fate of commercial and medicinal use.

As the ordinance stands, it would prohibit any outdoor cultivation for medical use, recreational use or otherwise. All cannabis dispensaries, medical or otherwise, would be outlawed as sales of marijuana would be considered a commercial activity. Cultivation, storage and transportation for a qualified patient is not prohibited, as long as it isn’t sold to others. Cultivation, storage, transportation or donation by a primary caregiver would also not be outlawed.

McLaughlin has previously spoken at length about law enforcement’s concerns, particularly regarding the increased violent crimes reported near cannabis dispensaries. He attributes such crimes in part to the fact that because marijuana distribution is still a federal offense, dispensaries avoid traditional banking and deal primarily in cash.

McLaughlin said that a medical facility, such as the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, would be authorized to administer medical marijuana to inpatients and persons with chronic, life-threatening illness.

“I’ve spoken with [RRH CEO] Jim Suver,” said McLaughlin. “He is supportive of the facilities providing this should there be a need.”

He added that he assumes California City will continue allowing its dispensaries if patients need to travel out of town for medical cannabis access.

Several years ago a previous council had prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits.

However, the new voter initiative allowing adult recreational use of marijuana takes effect Jan. 1.

One of the provisions of the state initiative gives cities and counties authority to ban or regulate cultivation and sale.

In Kern County, most large cities have banned cannabis in public spaces.

The Ridgecrest City Council next meets Wednesday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m. at City Hall.

The agenda and other information are at www. ridgecrest-ca.com/ridgecrest-city-council.

Story First Published: 2017-11-10