Medical Marijuana Ordinance Slated for June Special Election

An initiative that would replace San Jose’s medical marijuana ordinance is headed to voters. On Tuesday, the City Council will likely task Mayor Sam Liccardo with penning an argument and rebuttal to include for the June 7 special election ballot, which is also when California holds its presidential primary.

San Jose enacted its pot regulations in the summer of 2014 and spent the ensuing year-and-a-half enforcing them to reduce the number of collectives from about 80 to now 16 in compliance.

Proponents of the Sensible San Jose measure qualified it for the ballot in 2014, but tabled the effort until last fall. Oakland-based attorney James Anthony, who’s leading the campaign, revived the measure after Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on statewide cannabis regulations that reaffirmed local control.

Anthony’s initiative would amend city code to allow collectives in agricultural, commercial, pedestrian, commercial and industrial neighborhoods. According to the council, that would open more than 31,000 parcels of land to pot clubs—a 5,000-percent increase.

“The ballot initiative before us would undermine the thoughtful regulatory framework council approved,” Mayor Liccardo, Vice Mayor Herrera and council members Don Rocha, Johnny Khamis and Pierluigi Oliverio wrote in a memo. “[It would] instead acquiesce to the desires of a few members of the industry to allow marijuana sales to proliferate.”

The estimated cost of the ballot measure will be $924,478, which includes base cost, impartial analysis, arguments and rebuttals.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 1, 2016:

  • San Jose will spend about $7.9 million to upgrade permitting software for planning, building, code enforcement, fire and public works. In this past fiscal year, the city processed about 42,000 applications and permits with a construction valuation of $1.3 billion.
  • Contractors of a public housing project failed to submit their payroll records on time, which prevented the city from being able to tell whether the company paid its workers a living wage. Coast Building Products, a subcontractor working on the Ford Road Family Housing project, paid restitution to 18 underpaid workers and $8.9 million in liquidated damage assessment to the city more than a year ago. But the prime contractor L&D Construction Co., which is liable for subcontractors, has asked the city for a refund.
  • On Feb. 25, The Atlantic ran a story about San Jose’s beleaguered financial state. “One would think that the richest city in America would have better roads,” the article began. “And more police officers. And more adequate housing for the poor. And yet, San Jose, which has the highest medial household income of any major city in the country … also has some of the worst roads in the county, a shrinking police department … and until the city shut it down, one of the largest homeless encampments in the nation.” A week later, the city has released its own financial assessment, which echoes some of the problems outlined in the piece. While the city has seen a modest increase in revenues from a stronger economy, it grapples with dramatically reduced staff and services and a $1.1 billion backlog in infrastructure maintenance and $3.3 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and health benefits. Click here to read the entire report.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

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


  1. The Mayor seems to have no intention of keeping any of his campaign promises. His platform, as I recall (but do not have his book in front of me) was that of being “all in” for Measure B, strict Marijuana regulation, rebuilding SJPD/SJFD and getting the budget under control.

    Pretty much abject failure on all fronts. City Hall ost Measure B exactly like the ballot rebuttals prophesized, is currently losing each battle with the MJ industry, SJPD is hemorrhaging staff with SJFD having only their first academy recently and finally, there’s still no tax measure to improve the budget. Like his protege, Liccardo refuses any and all tax changes while we watch huge housing complexes spring up throughout the City to the delight of developers who get tax breaks.

    SJ has fewer employees now (per capita) than just about ever and I’d wager the lowest for a big city in the nation- it couldn’t be running leaner as employee cost is the biggest component of most service organizations. Yet, we have a Redevelopment debt that sucks over 30% of the budget out of services, due to the decisions of the City Councils and Mayorships of Reed/Liccardo. Overtime costs are simply out of control, but there’s no other way to keep San Jose functioning.

    Did the Mayor intentionally stump for these issues, knowing he would do the opposite and the media would turn a blind eye? Did he just happen to pick all the “wrong” political positions, or is poor judgement baked in to his decision making? I think it’s a bit of both and being polygamous with the Chamber of Commerce, housing developers and the local media. Those folks got him elected so now he’s got to do their bidding. So far, he’s not been accountable because the local media is also in bed with the same big money and they’ve endorsed all the same measures and political stances repeatedly.

    Both METRO and the Murk are aligned with City Hall, the campaign money and the Mayor. San Jose can not recover with these people at the helm and the intentionally biased media as a watchdog.

  2. Why how many homeless people could we shelter for $924,478.98 Yet we are wasting the cost of 2 or 3 playgrounds
    on getting high, I mean getting medicine to victims of, what was I thinking? Never mind!

    • Public safety is shrinking because all other Cities Pay more or are better benefitted . Public Safety staffing levels are at an all-time low , while being at least 20% busier than before. All other Cities ( in the county) combined don’t respond to as many calls as SJPD/SJFD does. But all pay way better than S.J.