Medical marijuana clinics are having a big summer in downtown San Jose, as patients in oversized jean shorts and nightgown T-shirts can be found burning on the sidewalk almost any afternoon. Complaints of people lighting up on city streets are numerous—ask downtown’s Councilmember Sam Liccardo as well as police—but medicating in public isn’t illegal as long as smokers carry a doctor-prescribed card and stay clear of public transportation hubs.
With the council in recess until August and the planning commission’s new ordinances still pending, the city’s efforts to regulate the use and sale of medical marijuana remain hollow. With four dispensaries in the neighborhood, Fountain Alley has become a hangout for pot smokers as local businesses complain to cops, who can only shrug and turn to a City Council that has stalled for two years running.
And after letting the number of collectives mushroom to more than 100, there is now an indicator that arbitrarily capping collectives at 10 instead of legislating zoning restrictions and other guidelines—over the strenuous objections of Councilmembers Pierluigi Oliverio, Ash Kalra and Donald Rocha—may prove to have been a rash decision.
A report by the Gilroy Dispatch says that city spent more than $200,000 on legal bills to prevent just one collective from operating in town. That number should have San Jose’s city attorney, Rich Doyle, thinking about the quantity of pot shops that have threatened to sue San Jose if they aren’t included in the Top 10.
If Gilroy is any example of the headaches that lie ahead, the time and money needed to fight all those lawsuits will be a strain on the city’s already impacted staff and budget.