Local leaders in San Jose have now twice delayed a vote that will determine the future of medical marijuana in the city.
The city council voted May 20 to hold off, yet again, on a new ordinance that would restrict MMJ dispensaries. The decision was delayed from another meeting earlier in May. It will come up again at the next council meeting June 3.
The ordinance would limit the number of dispensaries, would put a 1,000-foot buffer between them and schools, daycare facilities, and libraries, and would limit store hours.
The new rules also would require that most of the pot shops locate in industrial zones, and that all their weed be grown in town. That requirement alone has drawn intense opposition from patients and the MMJ industry.
Several council members agreed with the criticism during a heated meeting May 20.
“I think it’s unwieldy to think that they would be able to grow all this in San Jose without negative impacts to our environment and community,” said Council Member Rose Herrera.
Council members voted to delay a decision on the ordinance after a late meeting marked by impassioned pleas from both sides of the issue.
Neighbors of some of the city’s 80 unregulated pot shops held up signs asking the council to move the shops away from their homes. Medical weed patients pleaded with city leaders not to restrict their medicine.
“It pisses me off because it puts me at risk,” said Valerie Ward, an MMJ patient. “I’m not going to stop. You can’t put a limit on someone’s medication.”
Patients and industry insiders have complained repeatedly that the ordinance would all but wipe MMJ from the city, especially because it requires that all pot be grown on-site. Forcing every shop into an industrial location also would harm patients, said Matt Lucero, owner of Buddy’s Cannabis.
“The city now wants to put everyone in an industrial zone,” Lucero said. “That’s fine for us. We will make that move. But for our 15,000 patients, about 20 percent who are elderly, [they] won’t be able to make it there anymore.”
Unlike with previous attempts at dispensary regulation in San Jose, some version of this ordinance is likely to become law. Of the five major candidates for mayor this year, four are sitting city council members.
And marijuana is a major campaign issue, on both sides of the coin. There are plenty of unhappy voters willing to support a candidate who stands up to dispensaries – and plenty of unhappy voters willing to support a candidate who stands up for patient rights.