Medical marijuana users testify of pot's importance

July 23, 2007

Brynn Galindo, KGET TV 17 (Bakersfield)

The owners of two of three marijuana dispensaries in Kern County decided to close their stores, after the Board of Supervisors announced it wouldn't protect the pot shops from federal raids.

Jim McGowen, the owner of American Caregivers Collective, said he is making a logical decision.

"I got the attitude they want to delay a decision and let DEA come in and shut us down," said McGowen.

But McGowen doesn't want his patients to give up.

Many of them gave emotional testimonies about their illnesses at Tuesday's board meeting, and demonstrators lit up outside the Administration Building.

"If you take this away from us, it will kill us," said medical marijuana user Stephanie Garner. "You are just writing our death sentence, so please vote with your heart and do not take these away from us."

Board members told the medical marijuana users the state and federal government has let them down, not local leaders.

Medical marijuana is within state guidelines, but against federal law, which has prompted DEA raids in Kern County.

The board decided to not shut down the facilities, and instead voted to not allow any more dispensary licenses to be issued.

"I'm interested very much in concept of any more permits being issued until these other issues are resolved, and I would like county counsel to look at that very specifically," said Supervisor Mike Maggard.

The board is set to further discuss the topic at its Aug. 21 meeting.

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