County Poised to Ban Pot Clubs

Santa Clara County may extend its moratorium on medical marijuana collectives until it comes up with a plan to regulate them—or ban them altogether.

The Board of Supervisors enacted a moratorium in June in the wake of San Jose’s new regulations that threaten to shutter most of the city’s 78 pot clubs. The fear was that those dispensaries would move to unincorporated parts of the county instead.

On Tuesday, supervisors are expected to recommend an all-out ban for unincorporated areas.

Currently, Silicon Valley has a higher per-capita ratio of pot clubs than Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles, according to the county.

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About 200 cities in California have enacted a total ban, including Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill and Milpitas.

County officials say they want to watch how the new ordinance plays out in San Jose. If the number of clubs falls too low to keep up with patients’ needs, supervisors could roll back the ban and come up with a slate of strict regulations instead.

Meanwhile, supervisors may direct the county to come up with a regulatory proposal for cannabis-infused edibles. The county’s Weights and Measures Division is looking to bring pot clubs under its purview, to monitor scales and scanners and send an inspector to make sure marijuana products are accurately labeled with weight, measure and count.

Health officials are developing a public health campaign to educate various audiences—patients, parents and youth—about marijuana. Analysts will also continue to study federal, state and local marijuana policies to present at future board meetings.

One such policy proposal, SB 1262 authored by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), would reinforce authority of local law. It would expressly require counties and cities to pass their own regulations or ban. It would create a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to license clubs already approved by local municipalities.

The bill is expected to arrive on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk by the end of the month.

On a federal level, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing cannabis for potential re-classification. The agency employs an eight-factor analysis to decide whether a drug meets criteria for its designated schedule, in this case a Schedule I controlled substance, the most dangerous classification.

The FDA re-evaluated marijuana's classification in 2001 and 2006—recommending both times to maintain the drug's Schedule I classification, which limits research into medical use.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for Aug. 5, 2014:

  • Goodwill, Bill Wilson Center, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the Healthier Kids Foundation were among recipients of Measure A funds. Here’s a full list of new Measure A service agreements.
  • The county is late in renewing its contract with an organ transplant firm. The California Transplant Donor Network facilitates more than 1,000 organ donations a year. More than 10 million potential donors have added their names to the registry. There are 118,000 patients on the national waiting list.
  • New policies up for consideration aim to prevent wage theft. A company that owes its employees money wouldn’t be able to do business with the county, under new rules.
  • Supervisors want to look at ways to help some of the unaccompanied minors that have shown up by the tens of thousands to the nation’s southern border. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) brought the issue before the board earlier this summer, urging county officials to take action. “The problem only continues to worsen and options for solutions decrease,” the county memo states. “In the last eight months, estimates suggest that a minimum of 57,000 new children have entered the system without a parent or guardian. Officials are expecting another 74,000 within the next year.” One option would be to place children in host families, as opposed to a group setting.
  • A pending agreement would relinquish control of the Palo Alto airport from the county to the city.
  • Supervisors will pause a moment in remembrance of Michael Reeves, who died in June in a bicycling accident. A car struck the 54-year-old while he was cycling in Monterey County. He is survived by his wife, Mary Gray-Reeves, the first female Episcopal bishop in California.
  • They will also commend the life of Luc Nguyen, who died last month from heart complications at the age of 67. The former airman escaped from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and eventually settled in San Jose. He later became chairman of a Bay Area Vietnamese soccer league and major organizer of the Tet Festival at the county fairgrounds.
  • The county may offer $100,000 in matching funds to the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce for a year-long jobs-creation initiative.
  • Auditors in the coming fiscal year plan to look into San Jose’s 9-1-1 response times, the jail’s inmate welfare fund, the county Controller-Treasurer’s office and highest users of county services. Not to mention other cases brought to their attention by whistleblowers.
  • “America’s first line of defense in a terrorist attack is the ‘first responder,’” reads a memo about how the county’s vying for federal anti-terrorism grants. “Homeland Security grant funding is designated to build on existing first responder capabilities in order to save lives and make the nation safer.” That’s the same justification that allows local law enforcement agencies to buy things like cellphone data-scooping (aka spying) technology.
  • Year Up, an organization that helps low-income youth find internships and employment at top Silicon Valley firms, wants to work with the county to expand its reach in the region.

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.599.5001

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Absolute Stupidity ! Instead of coming up with a workable plan , regulations and over sight . They just Ban what they are afraid of . Most cities in the county are strapped for cash , but refuse to think outside the Box . Colorado profited $19 Million Dollars for the month of March alone . According to reports everything is running smoother than anticipated and profits are higher than expected .

    • I don’t think it’s a matter of afraid, I think it’s a matter of what annoys every boss… “The employee that I get a lot of calls about”

      I have a friend with a small retail company. Every day he’s getting 2 or 3 phone calls about one of the partners from subordinates. He was complaining to me that it’s costing him 8+ hours a week of having to lend a sympathetic ear over the phone from this bad partners shenanigans.

      Pot clubs are no different in regards to the city (their real boss) Granted, they will get calls about them. Something smells, there’s a lot of cars in the parking lot, I hate their signs. These are all things I’d come to expect from well meaning citizens.

      Unfortunately it’s been the gravity of some of these calls that made San Jose (and now the county) take even heavier actions. Me getting beat up by the owner of of a club that rhymes with Smell A Mental Well Dressed was just the tip of the iceberg. There’s been clubs owned by felons, there’s been clubs owned by people with a history of committing fraud. Owners with gang affiliations propping up “puppet owners”. There’s club that play the same 3 card monty game with their corporate paperwork that The Matrix casino did.

      Given that our police enforcement is so strapped right now, do you really think we have enough code enforcement + SJPD to close every single one of these clubs down? It’s just so much more cost efficient to pass a law and kill the lot of them in one bold swoop.

      On top of all of this, there is still the Federal threat to the city. Yes, they need to exist, but we need to up our game on who gets to own one. It all has to be measure and weighed.

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