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San Jose pot club forced to move

March 12, 2010 7:23:33 PM PST
A medical marijuana operation in San Jose is saying the city is using strong arm tactics to close it down. It is part of the growing debate in San Jose about pot clubs and the call for regulation.

The location where the San Jose Cannabis Buyers Collective used to do business is now nothing more than empty rooms.

The pot club says the landlord evicted them.

"The landlord has no real reason, other than being a little afraid, to let us go from this location," SJCBC spokesperson Erika Taylor Montgomery said. "We've been excellent tenants and this is a travesty for the patients in the area."

Medical marijuana advocates say there are about 50 pot clubs operating thoughout San Jose. The city's official position -- they are all operating illegally.

San Jose does not have any rules or regulations allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries and the assistant city attorney says since there is no zoning, there is no permit mechanism for selling and distributing pot.

"There is no gray area because in order to operate a business and use your property in the city of San Jose, you have to comply with the city's land use," Ed Moran said.

The city's top code enforcer says he has made contact with 32 questionable operations and based on neighbor complaints, sent out seven cease and desist orders, including one for the SJCBC.

One City Council member is pushing to adopt clear rules that would allow for the legal operation of cannabis clubs.

"So I think we just need to face it, we need to be pragmatic; again, limited number, limited places, regulated and taxed," Pierluigi Oliverio said.

The full City Council will decide at the end of this month whether to move forward with regulation or leave things the way they are. Medical marijuana users say they want a system that works and argue it would not be hard to achieve.

"San Jose doesn't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel," medical marijuana user Chris Coulter said. "Look at LA, bad way to do it. Look at Santa Cruz, Oakland and San Francisco as good ways of doing it."

The evicted SJCBC has reopened at a new location several miles away, but still in city limits.

San Jose is not alone in raising objections to medical marijuana clubs. A pot club in Gilroy was ordered to close its doors after the City Council rejected its business license application. But according to their website, they are still open.

And in Walnut Creek, a pot club that has been operating in violation of a city zoning ordinance is scheduled to close on March 23 but they plan to appeal and reopen.


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