Local Politics

Friday, Jul 18 2014 05:46 PM

Judge allows dispensary to appeal his Measure G ruling

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    A pair of buds on a Wild Thailand marijuana plant are shown in this file photo.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

The Highway 99 collective earned the right Friday to appeal a court decision that overturned Kern County's Measure G medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.

Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Twisselman, who issued the ruling that the county's approval of Measure G violated the California Environmental Quality Act, ruled Friday that Highway 99 could file an appeal.

Highway 99 was the only medical marijuana collective that complied with Measure G and was cleared to operate by the county under its highly restrictive ordinance.

But when Twisselman overturned Measure G, all storefront collectives and cooperatives became illegal and the Kern County Board of Supervisors authorized county lawyers to file civil lawsuits against any open collective -- including Highway 99.

Richard Monje, the attorney for Highway 99, said his clients will appeal the decision that overturned Measure G -- despite the fact that the collective was not a party in the original case.

"At least we get to be in the game," Monje said.

He said his clients did everything right -- getting the proper permitting and county approval under Measure G.

Twisselman's ruling pulled the rug out from under them.

Kern County did not object to Monje's request for the right to appeal.

"They're the dispensary that was affected most by the court's ruling," said Kern County Deputy County Counsel Devin Brown.

Brown said the county has not yet filed suit against Highway 99, though county attorneys are preparing cases against all the open collectives and cooperatives as they were directed by supervisors to do.

He said the county isn't moving forward with cases where the landlord is trying to evict a collective or cooperative or the future operation of the business is in question.

"We're seeking to avoid litigation in those kinds of situations," Brown said.

But the county has filed complaints against three other dispensaries that remain open -- including two operations that sued to overturn Measure G, he said.

Measure G, which Kern County voters passed in June 2012, restricted dispensaries to unincorporated industrial land at least a mile from schools, day care centers, churches, public parks and other collectives and cooperatives.

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