CALIFORNIA: Bolstered by new legal authority, San Jose leaders are trying again to impose rules that would sharply shrink the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that have proliferated across the city in recent years as officials struggled to regulate them.
But even as the San Jose City Council considers new rules Tuesday evening, marijuana advocates are promising once more to collect signatures that would allow voters to overturn them, reigniting a weed war that had been on ice while city leaders awaited key court rulings.
The state Supreme Court this spring ruled that cities can regulate medical marijuana shops, prompting the new proposals. Mayor Chuck Reed said there doesn’t appear to be support on the council for a complete ban but said the council has a shot at passing rules that block dispensaries near schools, homes and other sensitive areas.
“We can’t just have a laissez-faire regulation system,” said Reed, who suggested that the city get “mean” with problem pot shops.
The regulations recommended by City Hall would limit the locations in which the dispensaries could operate to less than 1 percent of all parcels in San Jose. Pot shops would not be able to stay open within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, libraries, day-care centers and community centers; within 150 feet of homes; or within 500 feet of drug rehab centers. That leaves only 1,404 parcels left, most in the industrial north end of the city.
The city’s pot businesses, now numbering about 80, are spread out around San Jose, mostly in the central part of town. They operate under a legal cloud: The landmark 1996 Proposition 215 Compassionate Use Act made California the first state to legalize pot for the sick, though the state more recently prevented the pot shops from operating within 600 feet of schools. However, federal law still makes medical marijuana illegal, exposing distributors to prosecution.