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Patients protest closure of dispensaries

By Hempology | July 28, 2007

The Bakersfield Californian, CA
25 Jul 2007
James Burger


A large group of Kern County medical marijuana users and supporters demanded county supervisors uphold state law Tuesday.

They said they struggle with ulcers, migraines, glaucoma, nervous-system disorders, heart problems and arthritis.

Marijuana is the only drug that helps them live with their illnesses, they said.

But while state law allows them to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, federal law doesn’t.

Recent federal raids against county-permitted marijuana dispensaries – — and Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s support for the raids — have them riled up. 

“The federal government is panicking and throwing everything they can at us to stop the inevitable — the legalization of marijuana for every American,” said Doug McAfee, president of the Bakersfield chapter of NORML, a pro-legalization group.

Supervisors expressed their own frustrations with the situation they’re in.

“If you want an example of bad public policy — this is it,” said Supervisor Michael Rubio.  “Local government is being let down by the state and federal government.”

County ordinances charge Youngblood with issuing permits and overseeing enforcement of the marijuana dispensaries.

But following last week’s raids, Youngblood announced he wouldn’t issue any more permits because the federal government calls on him to enforce its laws.

Marijuana users say Youngblood is breaking state law by complying with the feds.

Darriel Herron said that “instead of standing up to the people who are trying to run us down,” the county is attacking the ill and defenseless.

Supervisors called on County Counsel Bernard Barmann to investigate what the county can do to abide by state law and its own ordinances while federal officers arrest local residents over federal violations.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for the county to issue permits to people that will lead to them being arrested and serving terms in federal prison,” Supervisor Mike Maggard said.  “The rule of law is what eventually will prevail.”

Barmann said he will come back to the board with the results of his investigation Aug.  21.

Also Tuesday morning, supervisors listened to a sea of purple-shirted county employees who asked supervisors to approve a contract with the Service Employees International Union Local 521.

Union members packed the board room and overflowed into the lobby of the County Administrative Center.

Supervisors took action to place $1,500 liens on the property of five Bakersfield residents who were cited for violating fireworks laws but hadn’t paid their fines.

Domingo Valdez Jr., Marco Campuzano, Antonio Carabajal, Ruben Carrillo and Ray Woolridge were all hit with property liens Tuesday.

Sharp pay increases proposed for top fire officials and public defenders were approved.

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