Medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Jose sure got the shaft last night. Pissed off parents, prosecutors and business proprietors claim San Jose’s approximately eighty marijuana businesses are destroying the character of suburban neighborhoods and attracting crime and blight, reports the San Jose Mercury. As a result, last night the San Jose city council voted to drastically limit new and existing dispensaries in the area.
The council’s 7-3 vote allows pot shops only a few locations—no marijuana dispensary can be located within 1,000 feet of schools or places children gather, 150 feet from homes and 500 feet from drug rehab centers. The new requirements also force pot shops to grow all the weed they sell in or next to Santa Clara County, limit store hours and set up round-the-clock security. Additionally no one under 18 can be allowed inside or to work for dispensaries. The shops can’t offer products that imitate candy and customers can’t medicate onsite.
As of now a quarter of the existing pot businesses, the ones adjacent to homes, could be forced to close within the next few months. Most of the other dispensaries that are now located in no-pot zones will have until next summer to shut down or relocate to a scattering of industrial areas that make up less than one percent of the city of San Jose. Roughly five to ten existing stores could potentially remain in their current locations.
“It’s apparent that the council overlooked many of the recommendations made by the patient community, and this is very disappointing,” says Steve DeAngelo the owner of the Harborside Health Center in San Jose. DeAngelo and his other dispensary in Oakland, CA starred in the Discovery channel’s reality series Weed Wars in December 2011. “It seems that members of the council still fail to understand that cannabis is a critically important medicine for thousands of San Joseans,” he continued. “Instead of creating a system that guarantees those patients safe and affordable access they’ve created a system which is going to greatly reduce the number of dispensaries in San Jose, but do nothing to make sure that they’re being run properly and in compliance with the law.”
There are very few dispensaries that currently qualify under the new rules and fewer properties available to lease that would qualify, says DeAngelo. “So this appears to be a backdoor way of greatly reducing access without actually passing a law that is explicitly going to do that and I think that there’s going to be a price to be paid at the ballot box next election season.”
Speaking of ballot boxes, this major blow comes just one week after the city of San Jose made national headlines as its politically aware pot patients were awarded free weed for voting. For now a bulk of the dispensaries in Silicon Valley are located in San Jose. Haters in neighboring cities such as Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill and Sunnyvale have completely banned pot shops, according to Americans for Safe Access. And the banning doesn’t stop there, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is set to consider a ban in unincorporated areas this summer.
What do you think of the recent changes to the medical marijuana landscape in San Jose? Tell us in the comments below.
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