Medical cannabis patients in Bakersfield may be in luck come mayoral elections in June. Since the city’s current Mayor Bill Harvey expressed that he will not be running for a fifth term, Bakersfield Now reports that 25 candidates have stepped up with intent of filling his place. Among those candidates is T.J. Esposito, a Bakersfield native who hopes to regulate medical cannabis for a safer and more effective local market.
Unlike other candidates running to become Bakersfield’s next mayor, Esposito grew up in a rougher setting and feels he knows the city and all its different aspects. With 15 years of experience in the medical cannabis field, Esposito sees that not all collectives within the city are worth keeping and stated that it is time for “real collectives to open in the city that are run by real professionals.” CULTURE spoke briefly with Esposito on his views on cannabis and how he plans to regulate the plant for patients.
“When it comes to using marijuana as an alternative medicine, it is absolutely the patient’s choice. As long as a doctor has recommended it to a patient, no government person or agency should interfere with a doctors’ treatment to a sick patient, as long as the doctor is following the law,” Esposito told CULTURE. Although the prospective mayor believes strongly that medical cannabis should be readily available for patients, he wanted to make it clear that he does not plan on regulating cannabis for the sake of collective owners, “I am not doing all of this work and making all of this noise because I’m pro ‘weed shop’ I’m working for the community and the patients that choose marijuana as medication,” stated Esposito.
As Bakersfield is in much need of an economic boost, Esposito also sees cannabis regulation as a chance to create local revenue. Esposito stated, “If we look at successful cities like Denver, we can learn a lot of lessons . . . Denver is thriving, the parks, the schools and small businesses are at an all-time high. Not to mention crime is down and tax money is flowing. Marijuana has really become an asset for that city and I believe it could be an asset for our city, if regulated properly.”
Currently 100 collectives in operation in Bakersfield and Esposito hopes to bring that number down to 20 or 30 to create a more professional and tight-knit cannabis community that is safe and effective for all of the city’s citizens.