San Jose ap­proves sale of recre­ational weed

City’s 16 li­censed dis­pen­saries will be al­lowed to sell pot un­der ‘good set of rules’

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Ra­mona Gi­war­gis rgi­war­gis@ba­yare­anews­

SAN JOSE » San Jose res­i­dents next year can buy mar­i­juana at any of the city’s 16 li­censed med­i­cal pot shops, the City Coun­cil de­cided in a unan­i­mous vote on Tues­day.

The de­ci­sion doesn’t al­low new pot shops to open in San Jose and main­tains rules on where the cannabis dis­pen­saries are lo­cated — away from schools, parks and other col­lec­tives. But it aligns San Jose poli­cies with the will of vot­ers who last year ap­proved Propo­si­tion 64, which le­gal­ized mar­i­juana for adult use.

“I’m against chil­dren and youth us­ing this drug but I un­der­stand the vot­ers voted for recre­ational use,” said Coun­cil­man Johnny Khamis, who also asked city of­fi­cials to ex­plore lift­ing a ban that pro­hibits cannabis busi­ness own­ers from own­ing more than one lo­ca­tion. “I would rather see all mar­i­juana — whether peo­ple are buy­ing it for medic­i­nal or recre­ational pur­poses — be reg­u­lated and taxed.”

Mayor Sam Lic­cardo agreed, say­ing the city has a “good set of rules in place” for its 16 med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries.

Three years ago, San Jose be­came one of the first ma­jor cities to reg­u­late med­i­cal mar­i­juana. Lead­ers adopted two laws: One that out­lined where the shops could go — away from schools, parks and other col­lec­tives — and an­other that con­trolled who can run a shop and how it op­er­ates. The city also re­quired shop own­ers to reg­is­ter and pay fees, in­clud­ing a 10 per­cent tax on their gross re­ceipts.

Af­ter weed­ing out hun­dreds of il­le­gal pot shops, only 16 col­lec­tives made it through the city’s strin­gent reg­is­tra­tion process. Now, those 16 lo­ca­tions will be al­lowed to sell and de­liver non-med­i­cal mar­i­juana — with a state li­cense — start­ing in early 2018.

Un­der the plan ap­proved Tues­day, the 16 pot shops would be re­quired to ap­ply to sell recre­ational weed, pay reg­is­tra­tion fees and go through ad­di­tional in­spec­tions. Their de­liv­ery driv­ers would agree to ad­di­tional back­ground checks and to out­fit their ve­hi­cles with GPS de­vices and cam­eras to pro­tect against di­ver­sion of cannabis.

More than 57 per­cent of vot­ers in San Jose voted in fa­vor

of le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana use for adults. District 6, which in­cludes the af­flu­ent Wil­low Glen and Rose Gar­den ar­eas, had the high­est ap­proval rate with nearly 65 per­cent of vot­ers say­ing yes to recre­ational weed.

Ev­ery city in Santa Clara County also voted in fa­vor of le­gal­iza­tion. But a hand­ful of Bay Area cities im­posed bans on the sale of non-med­i­cal pot to al­low city lead­ers time to fig­ure out how to reg­u­late and tax the new in­dus­try. Prop. 64 gives cities lo­cal con­trol over reg­u­la­tion — even al­low­ing them to com­pletely ban it.

While San Jose Po­lice Chief Eddie Gar­cia ex­pressed con­cerns with peo­ple driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana

and the in­creased ac­cess to the drug among youths, he stressed that there won’t be new dis­pen­saries in San Jose beyond the 16 sanc­tioned lo­ca­tions. He also said it beats hav­ing peo­ple buy drugs on the black mar­ket.

Sean Kali-rai, pres­i­dent and founder of Sil­i­con Val­ley Cannabis Al­liance who rep­re­sents five San Jose med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries, said he was pleased with the City Coun­cil de­ci­sion on Tues­day.

“It’s a bit over­whelm­ing to think that San Jose just ended cannabis pro­hi­bi­tion,” Kali-rai said. “It’s a tes­ta­ment to the fact that this in­dus­try can be reg­u­lated, taxed and op­er­ate like any other busi­ness and should be treated no dif­fer­ently.”

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