Get this—a former bakery in San Jose will be the future home of one of Northern California’s most popular and frequented medical marijuana dispensaries. When a gutless landlord wasn’t willing to extend their lease beyond 2015, the Harborside Health Center knew that it would have to relocate its second store—even before the passage of San Jose’s latest weed-hating zoning restrictions and threats from the Federal Government.
“We had already been searching for a larger, more centrally located and easily accessible location—with a more friendly landlord—even before the passage of San Jose’s new regulations and the federal government’s forfeiture actions to seize both our locations, Oakland and San Jose in 2012,” says Steve DeAngelo the Executive Director of the Harborside Health Center. DeAngelo has a forthcoming book and was recently honored at High Times’ Nor Cal Medical Cannabis Cup for his lifetime commitment to cannabis reform.
“The new zoning regulations made that mission both more urgent, and more difficult. It took us several months but we finally found a former ToGo’s bakery—it’s now being transformed into one of the most beautiful and dramatic retail environments—cannabis related or not—in the entire city.”
The zoning process was very challenging DeAngelo tells us. Dispensaries are restricted to about one percent of the surface area of the city— about 650 parcels total. And some of those properties are not appropriate for dispensaries because they’re an abandoned property, a parking lot or similarly impossible situation. “The majority of the rest of them were not available to us, because the property owners did not want to rent to cannabis businesses,” DeAngelo reveals, “or because they were already leased.”
Cannabis dispensaries have been restricted to some of the most unsightly and neglected neighborhoods in the area. “But I am confident that we can rise to the challenge and help heal our communities just as we have healed our patients, DeAngelo says. “The cluster of dispensaries located in the area will eventually transform it. As patients stream into the neighborhood from all over San Jose they’ll want cafes and shops that provide goods and services and experiences of interest to cannabis consumers.”
The new Harborside location in San Jose, 1365 N. 10th Street, can’t be missed. Well mainly because it’s painted bright green—the color of cannabis—of course. The 10th St corridor is so so gray, so lifeless, so neglected and sad, DeAngelo tells us. “We wanted to do something that would bring a striking new sense of vibrancy and vitality to the neighborhood, that would make it easy for patients to find us, and that would symbolize our connection to the plant.
DeAngelo and crew have high hopes of transforming the entire surrounding area. “After those initial new pioneers open and spruce up the look of the streetscape and demonstrate new business can be attracted, other non-cannabis related businesses will open beside them. Those businesses will repaint, restore facades, plant trees, hang new signage and bring new life to a place that has been decaying for years. I think this kind of revitalization will counter the stigma still clinging to cannabis in San Jose, and make the rest of the city more open to welcoming us to their neighborhoods.”
How can you ensure marijuana dispensaries are able to locate near you? By being in direct contact with your elected representatives. Call your City Council member’s and other elected official’s office and ask for a constituent meeting so you can express your views. And at election time, campaign for (and contribute to) those elected officials who are responsive and campaign against those who are not.
And above all, DeAngelo reminds us, “Tell them that legal cannabis businesses should be treated like all other legal businesses.”
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