San Jose’s 16 licensed pot shops can sell non-medicinal cannabis to anyone over the age of 21 starting in the New Year. The decision came Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the City Council, which decided to honor the will of the voters who approved statewide legalization for adult-use in 2016.
The ruling doesn’t change zoning regulations, which require collectives to stay a certain distance away from churches, schools and other so-called “sensitive uses.” Nor does it allow any more pot shops to open.
Cannabis lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai, founder of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, applauded the council decision, noting that every single district in San Jose voted in favor of Prop. 64, the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational use. He gave a special shout-out to District 6, the council ward that encompasses Willow Glen, which had the highest Prop. 64 approval rate in the city, with 65 percent of voters giving the green light to recreational pot.
Prop. 64 gave local governments the option of permitting or banning cannabis. All of Santa Clara County said yes to legalization in 2016, although several cities enacted bans on non-medical use until local electeds figured out how to regulate the newly above-board pot sector.
The sign-off in San Jose this week allows the city’s licensed collectives to sell and deliver non-medical cannabis as long as they obtain a state license. The licensees will require additional fees and inspections, including equipping delivery vehicles with geolocation devices and cameras.
San Jose became one of the first major cities in the U.S. to authorize medical pot sales a few years back, with a local policy that came with strict limitations and imposed a 10 percent local sales tax.
In 2014, San Jose slashed the number of weed shops from upward of 120 to no more than 16. It also imposed stringent operating rules on who could work at the licensed dispensaries and a requirement that the licensees submit to scrupulous police oversight.
A few people spoke against the ordinance, including Kevin Kittlia, a self-described born-again Christian who said he opposes legalization because he’s seen people’s “lives destroyed by this.”
“I ask you,” he implored the council, “please, please, please do away with the marijuana dispensaries, just because this hurts people.”
Councilman Johnny Khamis and San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia said they worry about kids getting their hands on marijuana if the city permitted recreational sales. Garcia also expressed concern about how to deal with people driving while high. But he conceded that regulating pot use is better than policing it in the black market.
Councilman Lan Diep, who penned a memo riddled with marijuana puns in almost every other line, suggested San Jose could model commercial pot laws for other cities.
“Our policy should not be a blunt instrument, but rather a high-quality model for other cities to clone,” he wrote. “Through smart regulations and taxes, we can weed out bad actors and get our general fund revenues high.”
“The time to dab in reefer-regulation is over.”
The Mayor quoted my memo from the dais! pic.twitter.com/LFCbHqC1vF
— Lân Diệp (@LTDiep) November 14, 2017