San Jose negotiates with medical marijuana collectives

January 4, 2012 8:30:18 PM PST
San Jose elected leaders and medical marijuana collectives are negotiating modifying components of an ordinance passed in September after opponents successfully challenged the City Council's action via a referendum process.

After a nearly two year process, the council in September passed an ordinance that would limit the number of medical marijuana collectives to 10 in limited commercial and industrial areas, implement a first come, first served registration process, and restrict marijuana cultivation to on-site only.

Citizens Coalition for Patient Care, a group of patients, collectives, and activists, led a $200,000 campaign to collect 49,224 signatures in a month to repeal an ordinance that they say would harm patients and the economy.

Of those signatures, 31,103 were found to be valid. The legal requirement to qualify a referendum was 29,653 signatures.

"We believe that we can get to a workable compromise," James Anthony, chairman of the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care, said. "The ultimate goal is an ordinance that works. We want regulations that work for everybody -- for the patients, for the collectives, and for the city."

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed today said it is now up to the City Council to decide whether to rescind the ordinance or put it on the ballot at the municipal election in June. The council will take up that task at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Reed said he would also ask the council to consider raising the city's tax on medical marijuana collectives from 7 to 10 percent to pay for the cost of an election.

"Our ordinance was a reasonable regulatory system," Reed said. "It's not a ban. I think the voters would support our ordinance if it went on the ballot. I'm also willing to consider some significant changes to the ordinance to avoid holding an election."

The mayor said the ordinance has been suspended and that he is currently negotiating with the medical marijuana collectives to reach a compromise that would be satisfactory to both sides.

Medical marijuana facilities are not currently allowed to operate in San Jose and those that have opened in recent years are doing so illegally and would not be grandfathered in under the ordinances.

The mayor said he would consider increasing the number of collectives to 25, permitting some off-site growing, and allowing for a more subjective evaluation process.

Components of the ordinance passed in September included a limitation on the number of collectives to no more than two per district and restricting the collectives from operating in sensitive retail areas, such as ground floors of shopping centers.