San Jose City Council Severely Restricts Pot Shops

By McCarton Ackerman 06/13/14

City leadership approved measures that will make selling medical marijuana in San Jose all but impossible.

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Medical marijuana dispensaries have been prevalent in San Jose, but leaders in the California city are now cracking down on the industry.

The San Jose City Council voted 7-3 earlier this week to limit new and existing medical marijuana shops to a handful of specific areas in the city, which means that most dispensaries will need to close within a year. Only five to 10 existing shops will be able to remain in their current locations. City council members said the decision reflected what San Jose residents wanted.

A city-commissioned poll earlier this year found that 60% of respondents wanted some form of regulation on pot shops, while 16% wanted them to be banned completely. Residents also objected to many children getting their pot through the shops either illegally or by obtaining a medical marijuana card.

Pot shops will now be required to operate at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, and other areas children gather, 150 feet from homes, and 500 feet from substance abuse centers. They will also be forced to grow all weed in or next to Santa Clara County, limit store hours, and set up round-the-clock security. Children under 18 may not work for or even enter these medical marijuana dispensaries, while the stores will also be forbidden from selling products that imitate candy or could be considered as marketing to children. Customers are also now forbidden from smoking pot inside the stores.

"I think we came up with something that protects our residents," said Councilman Pete Constant, while still "providing enough space for dispensaries to operate."

However, some current pot shop owners believe that an outright ban on these dispensaries is inevitable because the new regulations will make it impossible for them to do business. And while San Francisco and Oakland have also approved restrictions on dispensaries, they aren’t nearly as severe as what will go on the books in neighboring San Jose.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.