Ten is a number that has a lot of meaning to San Jose, California as of late. For starters, San Jose has become the tenth largest city in America according to the 2010 U.S. Census. And ten is soon to be the number of medical marijuana dispensaries the sprawling South Bay metropolis will be limited to, as voted upon by the San Jose City Council on Tuesday.
That ordinance is part of a series of laws that garnered media attention as San Jose became the largest city in the cannabis capital of Northern California to adopt a framework for medical marijuana businesses. But who exactly is this “framework” benefiting? The ordinances are scheduled to go in effect by the end of October and will reduce the number of clubs from approximately 140 at present to the aforementioned ten, to serve a population of over 945,000 within the city limits alone. Clubs would also be limited to certain commercial and industrial locations – code for the dumpy part of town. Even more troubling, dispensaries will be required to cultivate all their medicine onsite as opposed to obtaining it from caregivers throughout the region. Knowing all that medical marijuana is being grown in one central location is an invitation for theft, federal raids, or both, depending on who gets there first.
Fortunately the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care (CCPC), a San Jose medical cannabis activist group, opposes these impractical and potentially dangerous ordinances. Outside of San Jose City Hall on Wednesday, CCPC members announced they were launching a petition drive to block the ordinances.
CCPC now has 30 days to gather 30,050 valid signatures of San Jose registered voters (eight percent of the city’s voters) to qualify a referendum that would repeal the ordinances. CCPC expressed confidence that they’d obtain the required number of signatures, especially since medi-pot clubs in San Jose have unified behind CCPC and plan to raise some $200,000 to hire professional signature gatherers to guarantee the referendum is made official. The City Council would then be required to either put the referendum up for a special election (at a cost of approximately $3.4 million) or repeal the dispensary ordinances themselves to avoid the expense of taking it to the ballot.
However, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has also threatened to support an outright ban of medical cannabis dispensaries in his city if medi-pot businesses don’t accept the new regulations.