One of San Jose’s longest-running cannabis clubs will close its second location, another casualty of the city’s strict new zoning requirements.
But Dave Hodges, owner of the All American Cannabis Club (A2C2), will keep his lease and flip the defunct collective into a campaign headquarters for a grassroots statewide legalization effort.
San Jose passed an ordinance in summer 2014 that wiped out about 80 percent of the city’s pot clubs by restricting their proximity to schools, homes, churches and other dispensaries.
The new rules forced Hodges to close his first location on Stockton Avenue after six years in business. His second shop on Bascom Avenue remained open while he fought the city in court. Earlier this month, however, a judge granted the city’s injunction to shutter the remaining branch because it’s too close to a church.
According to the city, Hodges never applied for a zoning code verification or pay the city's marijuana business tax, which knocked him out of the running for compliance.
"The council gave the collectives ample time to find sites that met the zoning requirements, and even more time to build out those sites and relocate their businesses in order to comply with the ordinances adopted in June 2014," city spokesman Dave Vossbrink said. "Some, like Mr. Hodges, chose not to do so, and therefore are illegal under city law."
Though exhausted from a drawn-out legal battle with the city, Hodges plans to channel all his energy into putting a legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot.
“It’s unfortunate the city has decided to give money to street drug dealers and limit access for medical marijuana patients,” he said. "With the small number of locations, unlawful age restrictions, and constraints on available products, there is more 'weed sold on the streets' in San Jose than ever before. This needs to change, and full legalization is the only answer."
Replacing A2C2: Americans for Policy Reform (AFPR), a group of grassroots organizers backing a citizen initiative called the Marijuana Control Legalization and Revenue Act.
Proponents of the legalization measure, dubbed the MCLR for short, will use the Bascom Avenue location for volunteer briefings, training, a call center, voter registration efforts and a meeting space.
"There are no guarantees in 2016,” said AFPR director John Lee. “Everyone who supports marijuana legalization needs to visit the headquarters. Supporters will learn how to get directly involved in supporting legalization in California."
The MCLR is one of about 20 legalization initiatives filed or soon to be filed. A challenge for reformers heading into 2016 will be to unite around a single initiative. But marijuana advocates and drug policy groups are split over initiative language addressing issues like job discrimination and how strictly to regulate a future recreational market.
— Don Duncan (@ASAdonduncan) October 28, 2015
There’s a lot of money on the line, with former Facebook president and Napster founder Sean Parker, and big-time policy groups ready to mobilize behind what they deem the campaign with the best shot at the polls.
For activists who have spent years raising the political likelihood of legalization, there’s some concern that their efforts will be pushed aside by billionaires, millionaires and policy groups with their own agendas.
A ballot measure penned by Reform California and backed by veteran pot proponents has been touted as one with the winningest chance, but has yet to score a major funder. Adding more friction to an already contentious field, Parker went ahead and drafted his own initiative, which, according to the Sacramento Bee, some longtime marijuana advocates consider overly restrictive.
Hodges and Lee said the opening of the new campaign headquarters in San Jose is a direct call to all other groups and donors to unite around a single measure.
The MCLR is considered a grassroots initiative, stemming from four years of work by thousands of Californians who co-authored and crowd-sourced the language legalizing medical, industrial and adult use. Click here to read the full text of the measure.
The AFPR office is located at 3131 S. Bascom Ave., in San Jose. Hours will be from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. To volunteer, call John Lee at 408.500.2869 or email at [email protected]. The group’s website is www.AFPR.us. The MCLR website is www.MCLR.us.
This story has been updated.