County weighs need for medical marijuana

August 20, 2007

, Fox News Bakersfield

Kern County Supervisors are struggling over whether the county should oversee medical marijuana facilities or how they should do it.

It was a heated meeting during the morning session of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Medical marijuana advocates, patients and activists packed the meeting to speak out in favor of the county regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.

The six medical marijuana dispensaries that were once open, remain closed at this time and Sheriff Donny Youngblood will not issue any more dispensary licenses as he feels that he is helping people break the law. Youngblood made the decision after several DEA raids of the dispensaries earlier this year. It is legal to use medical marijuana under state law, but not federal law. All six dispensaries closed over the past few weeks; some of the after federal raids and others voluntarily to prevent being raided.

Supervisor Chairman Don Maben gave the crowd several warnings to keep quiet during the public session. Several of them made comments, even booed while Sheriff Youngblood addressed the supervisors.

Sheriff Youngblood says its his job to uphold the law, but advocates of medical marijuana say, if dispensaries are not open patients will be forced to get their pot illegally. But the county reminded the public that it is not the Sheriff's fault the DEA is enforcing federal law.

In the end the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to continue with the existing ordinance to issue licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, but to ask for more review by county departments of which agency, if not the Sheriff's Department, should oversee the dispensaries.

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