By Ric Llewellyn
How many times do we have to just say NO before the pot interests get the message? I think they keep forgetting. So let's say it one more time: "No."
Our voice as a community has been clear. This time it was 69 percent to 31 percent. The accommodations afforded under Measure G are good enough. We don't want to indulge the marijuana industry further.
Why should we? The California law that legitimizes dispensaries and allows state residents to produce and possess pot for personal -- supposedly medicinal -- use does not compel communities to complaisantly implement those policies.
So, late last summer the Board of Supervisors took decisive action to severely curtail personal production of marijuana and to prohibit the operation of dispensaries.
The cultivation ordinance went along the path of litigation and stands today. But medical marijuana activists quickly lit into the Board with a citizens' referendum on Ordinance G-8191, the prohibition of dispensaries.
The Board of Supervisors had taken a bold position for the security and stability of our community. It appeared to have been overwhelmingly supported by Kern's residents. Like Supervisor Ray Watson, I actually looked forward to voting on the outright ban enacted by the original ordinance.
But the Board felt some pressure to revisit its decision. The Supervisors heard quite a bit of testimony from the public and plenty of legal research was done. In the end they took the advice of County Counsel Theresa Goldner and substituted a strict alternative ordinance regulating the siting and operation of dispensaries.
The new ordinance is not a ban but it is very demanding. And rightfully so. Medical marijuana activists have never respected the perceptions of the community regarding the impacts of dispensaries on businesses and neighborhoods.
New regulations will limit dispensaries to specific land use types. This requirement may be irksome to dispensary operators, but it is not a de facto prohibition as marijuana proponents complain.
The new ordinance also limits the proximity of a dispensary to schools, parks, churches and daycare centers. This condition may seem unreasonable to a potential dispensary operator, but it provides a reasonable buffer for children and families against the so-called secondary effects of dispensaries.
New regulations require dispensary owners to comply with development and operational standards that address safety and security while running a business like a medical marijuana dispensary.
And there is a new application process that must be followed to develop a particular location. But there is also a timely and fair process for review and approval -- or denial and appeal -- established by the new ordinance.
The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 loosely gave California's collective consent for sick people to use pot without fear of state criminal sanction. In 2003 Senate Bill 420 further defined how that approval would be obtained and regulated.
No communities or their local governments were required to facilitate the production, processing, distribution or use of marijuana. Our local government has chosen to take a very strict position through the years as we continue to deal with this issue.
So what's next? Pot advocates suggest "dispensaries" will go underground. Nicely done. We already think medical marijuana businesses are just a shade of gray from being criminal enterprises. You just reinforced that perception.
Legal action and more petitions? No doubt; and it is becoming tiresome. So as a person who stands in opposition to the "medical marijuana" racket I have some advice.
Get on a more constructive and conciliatory path. Embrace the mood of the community at large. Show your legitimacy, if there is any, and start working within the regulations you now face.
Cultivation is allowed in Kern County and is regulated by certain rules. Dispensaries can operate in the county subject to specific rules. Just follow the rules!
Recycling businesses, radiology labs and auto repair shops follow their rules. Instead of further alienating most of the people of Kern County, medical marijuana proponents should pour their energy into compliance.
Businesses have had to deal with zoning restrictions and health and safety regulations for decades. Look around. They seem to find a way.
The onus of the medical marijuana controversy is back on its proponents. I hope they choose a course of cooperation instead of confrontation.
Ric Llewellyn is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Llewellyn, not necessarily The Californian. You can email him at email@example.com. Next week: Heather Ijames.