Kern Co. judge orders changes after marijuana ballot language ruled misleading

A hotly-contested ballot initiative to reverse a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Kern County took a turn in court.

A Kern County Superior Court judge ruled that some of the wording in an argument in support of a medical marijuana initiative set to appear on the March primary ballot was misleading.

If approved, Measure D would lift a ban on unincorporated medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Kern County areas. Any dispensaries that were open in 2017 or before would be allowed to reopen.


Kern County Auditor-Controller Mary Bedard filed a lawsuit in December to change the ballot argument that initiative proponents – local marijuana activists – submitted.

The county argued that the wording of the argument was misleading, and one of the main sticking points was that it said K-12 schools would receive money from taxes on marijuana sales.

The judge ruled that the reference to K-12 schools must be deleted from the argument.

The other main point of contention dealt with a sentence that quoted County Supervisor Mike Maggard.

The sentence read: ““As one supervisor said, ‘the county ban on medicinal cannabis was just an excuse to wipe the slate clean and give exclusive access’ to special interests.”

According to the county, Maggard’s comment – which he made on a local radio show – were taken out of context.

The judge sided with county, ruling that the sentence can remain but cannot be used with quotation marks and attribution.

There is another initiative on the ballot that would also allow dispensaries to reopen: Measure E, which is backed by the county.

If Measure E passes, dispensaries would have to receive a conditional use permit from the county before they would be allowed to reopen – a slight but important difference which would give the county much more control.

There’s also a chance that the two initiatives could split votes, just like in 2018 when there were three marijuana initiatives that were all voted down.

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