Proposed Regulations Would Move Marijuana Collectives to Industrial Areas

View Map of Marijuana Collective Locations in December

View Maps of Possible Locations Under Proposed Regulations

A four-year effort to regulate the estimated 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Jose will come to a conclusion on Tuesday, May 20, as the San Jose City Council votes on a proposal that aims to provide safe access to medicine for ill people while keeping drugs and crime away from neighborhoods and businesses.

After three hours of presentations, public testimony and posing questions to staff members and Santa Clara County officials invited to the Tuesday, May 13, meeting the council voted unanimously to postpone the vote on pot club regulations to give them time to sort through the many changes proposed by advisory commissions and each other.

“Please don’t pass this tonight,” resident Susan Landry told the council. “It’s not ready. There are too many supplemental memos that conflict with each other. It’s hard to sort out, as a community member, what we’re voting on. “

The council now will vote on regulations that control where pot clubs can be located and how they will operate at the May 20 afternoon meeting that begins at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street. The meeting can also be viewed on the Internet or Cable Channel 26. There will be no more public testimony at that meeting.

The latest proposal would limit:
• Limit pot club locations to 135 parcels in commercial and industrial areas
• Require collectives to be 1,000 feet away from schools, day care center, places of worship, community and recreation center, parks, libraries and other collectives.
• 500 feet from substance abuse rehabilitation centers.
• 150 feet from homes.

Proposed regulations would include requiring owners to register with the city, pay business taxes, pass background checks, not cause a nuisance in neighborhoods and business areas, and require operators to grow their own marijuana at locations in San Jose.

Testimony at the May 13 meeting reflected both the frustration of collective operators who say some of the restrictions would put them out of business, the needs of patients who want convenient access to their medicine and residents and business owners who complain about marijuana from collectives ending up in the hands of children and bringing blight to neighborhoods and shopping areas.

“The Starbucks I go to is right next to a marijuana clinic,” said resident Janet Evans “Why didn’t my councilmember in District 1 inform me that this was going in there? You tell me how I can live with this.”

Pamela Smith, an attorney who uses marijuana for arthritis pain, protested forcing cubs to locate in industrial areas. “Sending me to an industrial district to purchase marijuana is both dangerous and difficult for me. This is the second time you have secretly tried to outlaw the sale of marijuana.”

David Hodges, founder of the All American Cannabis Club and a Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition member described the city’s latest proposal as a ban on collectives. His group also filed a petition on May 12 that calls for a Cannabis Commission that would, in part, consider locations of collectives on a case-by-case basis.

“What we’ve proposed in this initiative is a commission that reflects what the youth commission does but does it for medicinal cannabis,” Hodges said. “They study the issues, advise the city on problems and how to address them and assure that the clubs are compliant.”

Added John Lee, another SVCC member: “We will get it on the ballot if necessary. “

That’s the fear of Councilmember Rocha.  Four petitions on proposals to marijuana collectives have been submitted to the San Jose City Clerk’s office.

“If we’re not careful up here they could have an initiative and write the rules themselves,” he said. “Those regulations they come up with could put collectives in residential areas. We’ve made some great efforts to impact that in neighborhoods.”

In making a decision, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmembers have to weigh not only public testimony, but also input from the Planning Commission and the Neighborhoods Commission as well as changes proposed in eight memos from Reed and other Councilmembers. Three more have been added from the City Manager’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office and the City Clerk.

Councilmember Rose Hererra, for example, wants the City to ban for-profit collectives and require them to become nonprofits. She also wants to ban outdoor cultivation. Rocha would like to table the proposed rules on cultivating marijuana in San Jose until the City can expand law enforcement to monitor the growing areas.

The Planning Commission voted to increase the number of possible locations of the collectives to include Commercial General, which would include shopping areas and business strips, and in Industrial Parks. City Officials have recommended excluding industrial parks, especially in North San Jose, where they are trying to attract high-tech clients. Reed and other Councilmembers want to prohibit collectives in commercial areas.

While all other cities in Santa Clara County have chosen to ban medicinal marijuana, San Jose wants to regulate them in response to the Compassionate Care Act of xx that allows the use of medicinal marijuana in California. , the city council approved regulations for collectives, but rescinded it after a successful petition by pot club advocates that would have forced a public vote.

At that point, all collectives in San Jose became illegal and their numbers grew rapidly in neighborhoods, strip malls and in Downtown San Jose commercial areas.
Complaints also grew, and on December 10, the council asked for a “robust regulatory program” that would address all the problems and comply with the U.S. Attorney General’s Enforcement Memorandum.