Legal marijuana has turned Kern County government into a muddy mosh pit of criminal and ethical accusations over the past month.
The story is complex and the stakes for those involved are high.
Some politicians elected to office by the public have been accused of taking bribes and building inappropriately close relationships with special interest lobbying groups.
Criminal investigations have been requested.
Today, and over the next two days, this series of stories will help the public understand what’s going on with their government and the people who lead it.
Two county supervisors and a marijuana shop owner are at the center of conflict.
A lot of the mud is being slung by David Abbasi, a cannabis advocate and the owner of three cannabis shops that have been shuttered by city and county bans on marijuana businesses.
But Abbasi doesn’t see city and county marijuana regulations being enforced on a level playing field.
He said his shops have been closed because he refuses to “pay to play” just so he can be a part of a secret-marijuana-shop monopoly he believes is being created by political consultants with help from elected officials they have bribed.
Over the past two weeks he has made his claims public with sworn statements delivered to the County of Kern.
Those he has accused of crimes have denied them.
But Abbasi’s close personal friendship with Supervisor Leticia Perez and her husband Fernando Jara has escalated his claims into a higher sphere.
And they come on the heels of accusations by Supervisor Mike Maggard that Perez and Jara have teamed up with marijuana interests to run an opposition