New Rules Would Essentially Kill Most Pot Clubs in San Jose

Under a regulatory proposal making its way through City Hall, all but a handful of local pot clubs would have to shutter or relocate.

The new rules would also force them to grow all their medicine in one spot, which marijuana proponents say would eliminate the variety of strains for patients, require "insane" amounts of electricity and attract unwanted attention from the feds.

A draft ordinance heading to the Planning Commission next week would limit pot businesses to industrial zones. It would require them to lie at least 1,000 feet away from schools, daycares, community centers, parks, libraries and places of worship and 500 feet from rehab centers and homes. It would essentially resurrect many of the same land-use limits the city imposed in 2011 and got struck down by voter referendum a year later.

james anthony
James Anthony

Cannabis attorney and lobbyist James Anthony worries that the rules would sweep the field clear and give the city free reign to play favorites with landlords and operators.

“They want to make any reasonable operation virtually impossible,” he told San Jose Inside.

A community meeting seeking input on the proposed rules takes place on April 26, a few days after the commission meeting. And on May 13, the City Council will consider a final regulatory proposal.

The council in December ordered city staff to draw up a new ordinance to regulate collectives, which in the absence of local rules about where they could open, grew from a few-dozen to more than 100 in number near homes, in shopping centers and peppered throughout downtown.

Though legal under state law, collectives remain in violation of federal regulation and, thus, illegal in the eyes of the city. That hasn’t stopped the city from collecting upward of $5.6 million in annual revenue from a Marijuana Business Tax, which it upped to 10 percent last year.

Meanwhile, a pair of initiatives are jockeying for a place on the November ballot. Dave Hodges, owner of All-American Cannabis Club, introduced a proposal in January that would keep most pot shops open in San Jose. The Medical Marijuana Regulation Act would also establish a cannabis commission and establish a minimum of 50 collectives to keep up with demand.

Anthony submitted a more moderate initiative. The Sensible San Jose measure would ban collectives from residential neighborhoods, establish a 1,000-foot buffer around schools and parks and a 100-foot buffer around youth centers, public swimming pools and video arcades. It would also limit open hours from 9am to 8pm and prohibit the city from using money collected from the marijuana business tax or federal grants to enforce federal laws against medical cannabis.

“Our initiative is somewhere in the middle,” Anthony said. “We have a virtual ban from the city on the one hand and a more permissive initiative from [Hodges] on the other. We realize zoning decisions have to be made and that industrial zones have worked really well for cannabis collectives. This would support that, while recognizing that we do need sensible regulation.”

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


  1. Good reporting Jenn W!

    Mj clubs have already “worn out their welcome and are facing stiff regulation.” My own take on the matter, city hall isn’t buying into mj clubs expansionary vision.. Also there is “growing impetus” for users to “grow there own” reducing the need for organized growers. My opinion, “taking the money away from organized growers and potentially organized crime is a good thing.” The red-herring issue of back-yard growers will be “victims of crime” will fade away as more people will grow the stuff. Sure, ripoffs will happen but, those that get caught will suffer far greater and will serve as a deterrent to others who think they can get away with the back-yard thefts. Police aren’t going to be to helpful protecting this type of criminal and for good reason.

    People who need this form of medication should grow thier own. The evil is the money surrounding the product.

    Of coarse, smoking this stuff is worse than cigarettes with reference to your lungs. Eating this material will give you the chuckles, reduce the intestinal polyps of intentinal cancer fame and is a good source of dietary fiber to keep the pipes clean of obstructionary debris.

    As you can tell, I support the back-yard or front yard growers, the clubs have become an organized nuisance that have had their fifteen minutes of fame and need to fade away into the ether of yesterday.

    David S. Wall

    • God forbid anyone makes any money from helping others. The majority of these businesses operate responsibly with no complaints. Should we force sick and dying patients, or even those who just don’t want to, to grow their own because some don’t like the fact people are making a living?
      By the way Mr. Wall smoking cannabis is SAFER than cigarettes! Look into the research before posting smug clueless statements. I fail to see how cannabis plants in every other back yard will help anyone who is annoyed at the collective. It stinks!
      Are we all out of major problems like prostitution, gang warfare, real drug dealing in this city. How about corrupt city council members with ties to real estate companies who will make hand over fist when every collective in town has to move. This isn’t about shutting them all down it’s about making everyone move and sweetheart real estate deals! It is an election year. Remember this on Election Day!

      • Sick and dying patients? Are you kidding me? I come in contact with these pot heads every day at work. I’ve never seen one, not one damn pot head, that was sick and/or dying. The medical marijuana law is a joke. Just legalize it and get it over with. The scam hah gone on too long.

        • What about kids with epilepsy who are taking more than a dozen pharmaceuticals but could control their seizures with CBD edibles (which do not get you high)? What about the old people with MS, Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, or Arthritis, who come to dispensaries to obtain their medicine? Should we force them to grow their own in an apartment building? Are they just potheads? Just because you don’t spend any time with them, it doesn’t mean they don’t exists.

    • You know what else should “fade away into the ether of yesterday”? Old people who don’t bother to spell check their posts. Seriously, the correct spelling is OF COURSE. Write as if you’re writing; not speaking. It’s a message board, not the water cooler.

    • A. It is unlawful for any person to cause, permit or engage in the cultivation, possession, distribution or giving away of cannabis. To establish an affirmative defense to civil and criminal enforcement of the provisions of the San José Municipal Code, the person seeking to invoke the defense must raise a reasonable doubt that he or she or it is in compliance with all other applicable State and local laws, including Health and Safety Code Sections 11362.5 et seq. and this Chapter, of which possession of a valid Notice of Completed Registration from the City Manager shall be prima facie evidence creating a presumption of the affirmative defense

      The same criteria you use to disqualify most of the clubs in the CSJ can also be used to disqualify most of home grows. Your law is carefully crafted to look/feel good on the surface Mr Anthony, but I went through it last week with your opposition, and that was just one of many paragraphs I found.

      One of your sponsors beat me up over a karaoke song, and was charged with a misdemeanor. Conveniently your disqualification section sets the bar for disqualification at felony. (I also heard he used to hit his wife, which is why she left him)

      Alcohol Board and Pharmacy disqualification sections set that bar at a misdemeanor for crimes of moral turpitude. This way wife beaters, child beaters, and idiots that go throwing haymakers in bars are removed from bar/pharmacy ownership. It is unfortunate that while on the surface, what you’re trying to pass what looks like a good set of laws, when they’re not.

      It is completely designed/engineered to kill off the competition and create a small monopoly. Isn’t this what happened in Oakland?

  2. “Helping others”–yeah, right. Cannabis clubs are an even bigger scam than handicap stickers. If you can’t find a doctor to OK you for pot and a handicap sticker you’re just not looking hard enough. Legalize pot like Colorado did and crack down on the pnony handicap stickers obtained by folks too lazy to walk a bit.

  3. Daniel, you have some serious anger issues. Smoke some “medical” marijuana and mellow out, Dude. But don’t eat too many Doritos and M&Ms while you’re tokin’, Dude, and get so fat you’ll have to scam your MD out of a handicap sticker.

  4. Is there a statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California in 2014? And if not, why not? It nearly passed with over 47 percent of the vote in 2010, and now that’s its passed in Washington state and Colorado, it would clearly pass here as well. So why isn’t any action forthcoming?

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