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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Kern County
Measure D Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


64,488 votes yes (41.73%)

90,058 votes no (58.27%)

100% of precincts reporting (657/657).

Shall County adopt the ordinance proposed by Initiative, Medicinal Cannabis Measure, allowing medicinal cannabis retail, cultivating and manufacturing; allow medicinal cannabis retail operating before January 1, 2018 to reopen, relocate, and expand in unincorporated area, subject to state licensing requirements and 1000 foot setbacks from legal medicinal shops and schools; allow activity without conditional use permit; and allow County to levy perpetual 3.75% special business tax per every $1000.00 of gross income {fiscal impact unknown}?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

This measure was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition signed by the requisite number of registered voters in the County of Kern. 

The measure would amend the Kern County Ordinance Code to authorize and regulate commercial medicinal cannabis activity in the unincorporated area of the County. The measure maintains the current ban on commercial adult use cannabis activity.  

The measure authorizes commercial cannabis activity only by medicinal cannabis dispensaries that were in operation on or before January 1, 2018 and by cannabis testing laboratories. A medicinal cannabis dispensary is deemed lawful, entitled to a County permit, and eligible to apply for a state retailer or microbusiness license if it meets three requirements: (1) it was in operation on or before January 1, 2018, even if it is not currently in operation; (2) it is not located within 1,000 feet of any K-12 school; and (3) it is located in a zone where pharmacies may operate, which includes commercial and industrial zones. A permit applicant must prove it was in operation on or before January 1, 2018 by producing four of the following items: copy of any County-issued list of dispensaries, tax return, seller’s permit, lease agreement, and articles of incorporation or organization.  

A dispensary meeting those requirements but not currently in operation may reopen at its original location. If it relocates, it must do so within 12 months of the measure’s effective date, and its new location must be more than 1,000 feet from any other existing dispensary, must be more than 1,000 feet from any K-12 school, and must not be in a neighborhood commercial zone.  

An eligible medicinal dispensary must apply for a County permit within 60 days of the measure’s effective date. An applicant may appeal the denial of a permit to a state administrative law judge. 

Existing and relocating medicinal cannabis dispensaries would also be entitled to a County permit to operate as a delivery service or conduct off-site cultivation or manufacturing upon successful application for a state license for such activities. Indoor cultivation is restricted to agricultural or industrial zones, outdoor cultivation is restricted to agricultural zones, and manufacturing is restricted to industrial zones.  

Any person or entity may apply for a state license to operate a testing laboratory. Testing laboratories may only be located in industrial zones.  

The measure provides that the County Board of Supervisors may enact a resolution to impose a special tax on medicinal cannabis business in the unincorporated area of up to $37.50 for each $1,000 of adjusted gross income or fractional part thereof. The proceeds of the tax shall be deposited in the County general fund and may be used for law enforcement, and/or drug abuse education and treatment.  

The measure affirms that personal cannabis use must comply with state law and bans outdoor cultivation for personal use.  

The measure may only be amended by a vote of the people, except that the Board may amend the ordinance to conform it to new state laws.  

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

For nearly a decade, The Kern County Board of Supervisors have spent millions in taxpayer dollars fighting for a monopoly on medical cannabis, causing legitimate patients to suffer. They also lost tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. As one Supervisor said, "the ban was just an excuse to wipe the slate clean and give exclusive access" to special interests.

Medical cannabis is proven to be effective in the treatment of a variety of debilitating medical conditions. It is far less harmful and poses fewer negative side effects than most prescription drugs — it reduces dependency and overdose deaths related to opioid use.

Measure D addresses concerns of the community, stakeholders, and the County. It will reduce crime and illegal cannabis activity.

93% of U.S. voters think cannabis should be legal for medical use, including 85% of Republicans, more than 95% of Democrats and independents, and more than 92% of each age group.

Measure D will create more local jobs and tax revenue. It has limited domestic production which will help keep medicine affordable and prevent black market activity. Measure D will:

·       Protect safe access to medicinal cannabis for qualified patients and veterans

·       Stop special interest monopolies

·       Prevent public corruption

·       Keep medicinal cannabis businesses away from schools and out of neighborhood commercial zones

·       Provide local tax revenue of 3.75% specifically for Law Enforcement, Drug Treatment, and K-12 Schools.

·       Provide local jobs and economic growth

·       Prevent illegal market activity

·       Eliminate public nuisance

·       Allow law enforcement and authorities to inspect and audit medicinal cannabis activity and take expeditious action against those who violate the requirements.

Vote Yes on Measure D for public safety, safe neighborhoods, and reasonable, expert regulations that will work. We have the support of law enforcement, nurses, teachers, drug counselors, and voters throughout Kern.


Arguments AGAINST

Unregulated growing and selling of medicinal cannabis has affected neighborhoods and businesses throughout Kern County. The Medicinal Cannabis Measure will permit shops that have closed to reopen or even expand with no new regulations, all with no public hearing or community input. All types of commercial cannabis operations and retail sales operations would be allowed in agriculture, commercial and industrial zones and all without input from the community, without any public notice, and without any approval by the elected officials that represent you. In short, this measure gives you no say in where they locate, how many locate in a community, or how far apart they would be. Vote NO to stop over concentration of cannabis growing and sales in your community.

David R. Couch
Chairman, Kern County Board of Supervisors



Replies to Arguments FOR


There are false and/or misleading statements in the Argument in Favor of Measure D.


Here are some of them:


1. The Board of Supervisors has never and does not seek to establish a monopoly.


2. No Supervisor has ever said "the ban was just an excuse to wipe the slate clean and give exclusive access" to anyone.


3. California law does not allow the proceeds from the tax, presumed to be collected under Measure D, to be used for K-12 education as the argument states.


4. Measured D claims to eliminate public nuisances. Actually, Measure D allows dispensaries, previously deemed to be public nuisances, to re-open.


By the time you read this, the false and misleading statements in the Argument in Favor of Measure D may have been removed. If not, this rebuttal serves to point out these false and/or misleading statements to the voters and thereby protect the integrity of the electoral process.

David R. Couch
Chairman, Kern County Board of Supervisors

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