San Jose’s Buddy’s Cannabis One of First to Earn State License

A San Jose collective this week became one of the first in the state to obtain a license to sell recreational pot in 2018. Buddy’s Cannabis plans to open an hour earlier than usual on New Year’s Day to make way for the expected rush of new customers.

“All of a sudden, overnight, we have this whole new market segment that we were never able to tap into,” Buddy’s owner Matt Lucero said. “We’re super excited about it. It’s a dream come true, really.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 3.30.54 PMProp. 64 legalized marijuana possession, personal cultivation and use from the day voters approved it in 2016, but it’s been illegal to buy or sell the plant. Come Jan. 1, however, the state will allow tightly regulated businesses like Buddy’s to sell cannabis to anyone 21 years and older.

Buddy’s was one of 20 pot firms granted a license by the California’s fledgling Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees retailers, laboratories, distributors and so-called micro-businesses. Lori Ajax, the state’s inaugural marijuana czar, said in a statement that she plans to dole out more licenses on a rolling basis through early 2018.

“I was reading through 800 pages of regulations over Thanksgiving break in anticipation,” said Lucero, who came to the pot sector in 2010 after 18 years as a corporate lawyer.

Lucero said getting the state’s blessing culminates a hard-fought effort to bring the industry from the black market to the mainstream. The early days were rough, he said, because of the uncertain regulatory landscape.

“In that first year, I was kicked out of the city of Mountain View, kicked out of Sunnyvale and wound up in San Jose,” said Lucero, the sole owner of Buddy’s. “We’ve been through a lot to get here.”

It took several years marked by political and legal battles for San Jose to come up with its own rules for the industry, which slashed the number of collectives from about 120 to only 16. Lucero said Buddy’s was not only one of the first to win state approval for recreational sales this week, but the first to obtain its permits from City Hall.

“San Jose did a really great job getting us ready for this,” Lucero said. “The city here has a regulatory framework that’s more stringent than the state’s, so we’re already operating at the highest standard.”

Though California voters legalized weed statewide, local governments can still ban it. Upward of 70 percent of California cities have prohibited recreational pot.

San Jose, however, has been regulating medical cannabis for years, and the city has enforced a marijuana ordinance since 2016 that puts a strict cap on the number of clubs and requires police oversight of each operation.

To gear up for 2018, when the state will finally authorize recreational sales, San Jose revised its pot laws to allow recreational sales at its 16 licensed dispensaries. With its policies long in place, San Jose issued its adult-use licenses expediently, which allowed Buddy’s and other local businesses to get first in line for state permitting.

Selling to customers without a medical card will allow Lucero to open his doors to out-of-state customers, he said, and bring in enough revenue to expand operations to fill up his entire 21,000-square-foot facility on North 10th Street and to create more jobs.

“There’s a lot to look forward to,” Lucero said.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

11 Comments

  1. The unsung hero in this article is Roberts and Elliots law firm. Before we saw them yesterday they’ve been in process of helping 9 of the 16 (and you can make that 11 now) get their state paperwork in order.

    I’ve been doing the city paperwork for Haze for 3 seasons now. Thanks to the state regulations, the bar has been raised higher. This year looking over the paperwork for the state, I let my bosses know this was a fight I couldn’t do on my own. Any other clubs still trying to figure this out, go talk to R&E today.

    • Prior to the Pharmacy Act 1868 in England potent drugs were commonplace, cheap and easily available. England bloomed during the Industrial Revolution because it had access to raw materials, capital and cheap labor – this would be the Irish. While France was undergoing a democratic revolution – none such happened in England w/ the Irish workforce. Why? because after a long day of labor the lads retired to their favorite pubs to “organize” and rise up whilst enjoying their laudanum wherein they became very buzzed, went back to their hovels to sleep it off and rest up for another 14 hour work day. Besides artist, writers (and probably journalists) the working classes were always too stoned to make any corrective changes to society. this is what is happening here with the new pot laws. We have a huge underclass with few skills and education. they might realize they are oppressed – but as long as they are “happy” there will be no major political uprisings going on. Today we don’t need a large workforce of low skill/educated, technology has/will replace them.
      http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/science/addiction/addiction2.html

      • > Besides artist, writers (and probably journalists) the working classes were always too stoned to make any corrective changes to society. this is what is happening here with the new pot laws. We have a huge underclass with few skills and education. they might realize they are oppressed – but as long as they are “happy” there will be no major political uprisings going on.

        I have read similar accounts of the “invention” of gin and rum.

        They were viewed as miracle ways of producing cheap booze which would be a boon to the underclass, because they would have ready access to abundant liquor just like the swells.

  2. San Jose goes up in smoke. But then the downtown has for years. We don’t need a Fountain Alley, lets rename it Pot alley and put all the shops there since that is where most hang out anyway.

    • Marijuana & plenty of it for anyone 21 & over with money in their pockets ! It’s a great time to be living in San Jose. Toby your approval isn’t deemed necessary & the fact that you object to it’s legalization so strenuously just makes it that much more enjoyable. How does it feel to be part of an ignored minority with absolutely no discernible political clout ? Don’t bother answering I was just pulling your chain,no one really cares what any of you cretins think anymore. Another win for those who embrace freedom & commonsense & another crushing defeat for those hypocrites who attempt to force us to abide by their antiquated moral standards. Marijuana is a miraculous plant ! ,It brings much happiness to those who partake in it’s myriad benefits,while simultaneously bringing anger & distain to those so vehemently opposed to it’s use. Now that’s a win-win situation if there ever was one & their inability to do anything about it except foam at the mouth complaining is just icing on the cake. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em & if not visit a dispensary nearby you on January 1st. If you’ve never been to one before it’s like going to a candy store for the first time. Be sure to save a few dollars to run a naysaying,ne’er-do-well Republican politician out of office in a less enlightened city or state. Let’s not become complacent now,there’s still plenty of heavy lifting left to do to bring freedom to our brothers & sisters nationwide !

  3. Empty Gums it’s ‘too’ bad you don’t have anything remotely intelligent to add to the conversation. Fortunately for you I understand that fentanyl & oxycodone are readily available (with a doctor’s prescription) for insufferable old geezers whose comments are excruciatingly painful to digest. Marijuana on the other hand is impossible to overdose on,so there’ll still be millions of us around long after you finally OD & leave the conversation once & for all. God’s speed !!!

  4. Are there actual persons who believe that recreational pot wasn’t already being sold under the guise of medical cannabis. Not saying that it did not help with certain ailments but pretty sure there were also the insomnia type conditions.

  5. It’s high time that possession of an ounce of weed is legal,but all the fees added on by the cities & states are way beyond ridiculous. The increased costs apply to medical marijuana patients as well,they’ve now become the victims of legalization. Once the novelty of the dispensaries becomes passé,it’s back to illegal grows & illegal sales. Those who were already using marijuana are scoffing at paying outrageous surcharges & most of them never bothered to become patients in order to patronize dispensaries in the first place. First the state taxes the marijuana before it’s sold driving up prices & then it taxes the sales as well screwing the consumers. Only those with money to burn will continue to pay all these idiotic fees. I didn’t like having to pay nearly 10% in sales taxes required in Berkeley (I’d never patronize San Jose’s Sweet 16),but now add 15% state tax & a 2.5% city transfer tax (a bargain compared to San Jose) & that’s far more than I’m willing to pay. Black market growers & sellers were worried about how legal sales would impact their livelihoods,well once the smoke clears their sales will rise astronomically. Adding $50.00 – $150.00 per ounce in taxes & fees will make the illegal market bigger than ever & you can put the blame squarely on greedy state & local politicians. I’m going to buy mine illegally from now on & may even start selling it again myself,with tens of thousands of potential new customers there’s no better time than now. Remember that Prop 64 said nothing about all of these taxes,which were added by our political representatives after we voted. Marijuana is legal & the politicians are powerless to change that,but we can replace every politician who chose to use this opportunity to rob us on election day. You can grow your own &/or become an outlaw again,it’s funny how some things never change that much.

    • > I didn’t like having to pay nearly 10% in sales taxes required in Berkeley (I’d never patronize San Jose’s Sweet 16),but now add 15% state tax & a 2.5% city transfer tax (a bargain compared to San Jose) & that’s far more than I’m willing to pay.

      The taxes on pot are way, way too low.

      They should be 500 percent or a thousand percent. Maybe even five thousand percent.

      Only if the taxes are high enough will the gubbermint have enough incentive to start arresting pot addled drivers and get them off the highways.

      Remember the telling admission of the beloved but now missing Frank Mockery:

      “I’ve been using pot every day for fifty years and it hasn’t affected my brain.”

      Do you really feel safe driving the freeways with thousands of Frank Mockery’s?

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