New regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Jose could lead to a de facto ban in the city, advocates said in early May.
The City Council is set to vote May 13 on two ordinances to regulate pot shops in San Jose. The city has been trying to crack down on a booming dispensary business for several years, with little success.
The ordinances will effectively force patients to turn to the black market for their medication, the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition said in a press release. The patient advocacy group has tried to gather signatures to stop the city’s plan.
The city first tried to limit pot shops in 2011. Officials tried to set the bar at 10 dispensaries, but advocates collected enough signatures to require a voter referendum on the issue. Facing certain defeat, the city withdrew the regulations.
In the meantime, the “illicit” dispensary industry boomed in California’s third-largest city, leading officials to look for new ways to control the business. Work on a new ordinance began last year.
But there were signs of trouble from the start. MMJ advocates pointed out that dispensaries would be clustered in less than 1 percent of all the parcels in the city, grouped together in a small number of districts. Many patients would have to travel across San Jose to get their medicine.
Advocates have several problems with the ordinances. For one thing, they require that each dispensary produce all its weed at one location in San Jose. That limits cultivation and increases security concerns.
The regulations would also ban outdoor grows, concentrated cannabis, and other products that aren’t banned by state law. Many of these items have unique medicinal value.
According to advocates, there was no avenue for community feedback when the city drafted the ordinances. The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition scheduled a community meeting for May 7 to discuss the upcoming vote.
“Our goal is to create language city staff, the San Jose community, and the collectives can all live with,” said Dave Hodges, a member of the group and the leader of a failed campaign to legalize weed this year. “What the city is presenting is virtually identical to what caused the referendum in 2011.”
Patient advocates said they want to see more community involvement and more reasonable rules imposed on dispensaries.
“The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition would like to see the council put in place reasonable regulations and create a commission to address any impact to the community,” said John Lee, a member of Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition. “We need to move forward, not backward.”