San Jose’s clumsy process to enact a medical marijuana framework began more than half a decade ago with elected officials snickering like nerds about getting high at the dais and then knee-jerked into crackdown mode when the city’s planning commission wanted to arbitrarily cap collectives at 25.
When that failed to get traction, there were white flag proposals from a few shortsighted council members who suggested San Jose simply give up and scrap local regulation altogether.
Now, finally, through significant efforts to tax and relocate collectives with zoning restrictions and operational requirements, the city has a system in place that seems to work for both clubs and patients—while protecting members of the public who choose to keep their distance. Cannabis prices have remained flat, security requirements have been strengthened, testing medicine is required and, despite a dip in tax revenue, the city is still collecting millions. Measure C, a June ballot measure, hopes to tear it all down and start from scratch.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you care about safe access to medical marijuana in San Jose, vote “no” on Measure C. The system is actually working.
As it stands, San Jose counts 16 licensed collectives—each buffered from schools and homes, and many tucked away in industrial pockets of the city. The operators have worked with city leaders, paid their taxes and changed attitudes by proving to be more professional than some of the bureaucrats they had to convince. Even socially conservative former Mayor Chuck Reed has joined them in the fight.
Measure C aims to scrap this hard work and return to the days when San Jose had more than 100 collectives, many of which flouted state marijuana laws and became nuisances to residential and commercial neighbors.
Even Measure C’s author, cannabis attorney James Anthony, has disclaimed the proposal, telling anyone he can in interviews and on social media to vote “no.”
He came to this decision after city leaders and collectives agreed in December to relax the vertical integration requirement that all cannabis and products—edibles, oils, tinctures and the like—be manufactured on site. Such a condition would have made it impossible for supply to meet demand.
San Jose’s rules, thankfully, have been grandfathered in before the state’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act goes into full effect. Outright legalization in California is on the horizon, which will present its own challenges, and there’s a chance for San Jose’s 16 authorized dispensaries to have a leg up when that day comes. But that’s a concern for another day.
A collective requires cooperation, and the past year has proven to be a difficult but collaborative process to get rid of the non-compliers and provide a fair regulatory framework for responsible operators.