San Jose’s Top Marijuana Official Denies Threatening Collectives

San Jose’s top marijuana official has been accused of threatening collectives at a meeting earlier this month. The city, however, disputes the claim.

Assistant City Manager Angelique Gaeta allegedly told cannabis club owners that she would stop working with them if they supported a 2016 ballot measure to replace the city’s pot ordinance.

Elemental Wellness Center director Benson Hausman accused Gaeta of trying to discredit the Sensible San Jose measure at a Dec. 1 meeting with 15 dispensaries.

“She even went so far as to threaten that if support were given to the initiative, she would immediately end all city cooperation with collectives,” he wrote in a letter to the City Council, which was signed by 10 other collectives.

He also accused Gaeta of lying about collectives being unaware of the Sensible San Jose initiative or what it provided.

Gaeta told San Jose Inside she was surprised to read the letter. Most of the three-hour meeting, she said, focused on proposed changes to the ordinance and what would happen once collectives completed their registration.

“We briefly discussed the elements contained in the local initiative,” Gaeta said. “I asked if there were elements that they felt were improvements on the city program.”

The letter didn’t accurately portray her comments and doesn’t represent the majority of the industry, she added, noting that After the meeting her office fielded several calls and emails thanking the city for its work.

“While I am disappointed to see these unfounded allegations made, I and my team will continue to do our professional best to help all of the collectives get through the registration process,” she said.

Additional officials in the city manager’s office defended Gaeta, saying there’s nothing to investigate and she has the backing of City Manager Norberto Dueñas..

“The city manager has full confidence in Angelique, knows her strong professional ethic, her expertise and her demonstrated commitment to customer service,” city spokesman Dave Vossbrink said. “He has heard from other [industry] reps who were present and have a completely different perspective about how the meeting went. He is also well aware of the source of the complaint and was very disappointed that they chose to make an unwarranted personal attack on a staff member who has demonstrated extraordinary patience with them as they work their way through the registration process.”

Collectives have until the end of next week to register with the city, pay all permitting fees and otherwise come into compliance. Last year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-plus pot clubs operated in San Jose. Since the council passed its medical marijuana ordinance in the summer of 2014, that number has dwindled to fewer than 20.

The Sensible San Jose initiative, however, threatens to undo the city’s work. With that in mind, city officials agreed to some compromises.

In a 10-1 vote Tuesday, with Councilman Manh Nguyen opposed, the council revised the ordinance to allow clubs to grow marijuana anywhere in California. The rules previously limited grows to Santa Clara County or contiguous counties, but clubs worried that they wouldn’t be able to cultivate enough to keep up with demand.

Other changes allow collectives to make marijuana products off-site and require pot club employees to don a police-issued ID badge.

Pot lobbyists have expressed concerns that the city’s ordinance stands at odds with a new regulatory framework adopted by the state. While San Jose favors vertical integration—that is having a collective manage the plant from seed to sale—the state advises against the model. The idea was to give the city strong oversight in the absence of state rules. But a lot has changed since last year.

“Tough ordinances made sense in June of 2014 and were created in response to the state’s lack of oversight,” San Jose marijuana lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai wrote in a letter to the council, advising them to work closely with collectives to lessen the risk of a ballot measure overturning the local law. “Now California will oversee the industry with strong licensing and oversight laws.”

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


  1. What a load of crap. Police issued badges? Seriously?

    Folks, I’m 60 years old and have been watching/aware of society attempting to legislate morality with regard to substances capable of altering a human beings conscious state for at least 48 of those 60 years. In all this time, I have yet to see a single gain from any/all such attempts aside from the employment of a staggering amount of law enforcement workers, staggering military spending to the USCG, god knows how many billions of dollars going to corrupt countries in the form of foreign aid to combat the drugs they produce and send to the USA.

    Now let me refresh my ancient memory here… If history is an indicator of things to come then it also seems crystal clear that whenever the government and/or the moral police get their agenda’s over on the general public, whole new sectors of underground commerce, crime and violence are almost immediately created. It simply amazes me that the majority of folks seem unable to comprehend exactly what happened when alcohol (which is in reality a very strong central nervous system depressant drug) was banned in the United States. For those who still cannot understand what I am alluding to, “Organized Crime” as we know it today was born! I also find it twisted that it is acceptable practice to place poison substances in grain alcohol to make it undrinkable, as well as combining drugs like Acetaminophen so it will destroy a person’s liver in lieu of allowing them to feel “High” and/or become an addict. Then there are all the burglaries, muggings, robberies and other bad things that happen when addicts can’t get the clean drugs of their choice.

    Yea, we need to worry about Marijuana….. Give me a break!

  2. > Folks, I’m 60 years old and have been watching/aware of society attempting to legislate morality with regard to substances capable of altering a human beings conscious state for at least 48 of those 60 years.


    So, you’re in favor of letting clueless witch doctors cook up concoctions of thalidomide, PCP, and crack cocaine in their kitchens and distribute it to school children?

  3. This is silly,

    Angelique and the rest of the CM’s office has been nothing but extremely helpful. Myself and other managing members of the collective I work for has never once heard any sort of thinly veiled threats other than “Get your stuff done on time or else” which is fine by us.

    So far we’ve passed our building inspection. We had some issues with our police inspection yesterday, but nothing that can’t be remedied in a day or two, and again.. Woolsey and the rest of the CSJ has been extremely helpful in the process, taking the time to carefully walk us through on what needs fixing.

    If there was a reason for the city managers/council offices to be wary of “Sensible San Jose” it’s because during the last round, every person involved in that campaign made a mess of planning and council meetings by bringing 1000 green, pot leaf shirt clad stoners in to berate and call council/city managers everything from heartless to racist. Can you imagine 1000 people taking 2 minutes each at the podium? Pandemonium.

    We’re locally owned, the owner is my brother in law and he’s lived here his whole life. He’s never gotten as much as a speeding ticket, and he’s just an all around good guy. (Metro maybe you remember him as the front man of Curbside) He’s nothing like the clubs trying to bring “Sensible San Jose” to the ballot. He doesn’t have millions of dollars in investors, yet he’s managed to get his new location up to speed, and to standards that the police and CM’s office approve of.

    The “Sensible San Jose” folks are the opposite. Big big money. You look at our closest competitor, and you can tell they dropped $1m on just their grow alone.

    Anyways, if you support “Sensible San Jose” you’re supporting a group of clubs with one end goal in mind. They want to have a chokehold/monopoly on this business in San Jose, much like they enjoy in Oakland, with only 3 or 4 clubs in operation. These Oakland clubs would like to have that same monopoly here in San Jose, and getting this garbage on the ballot is just a first step in that.

    I think the CM’s office has done a fine job of weeding out the trash.

    Also a direct message to “Benson” of Elemental Wellness. Your ex-owner took a swing at me over a karaoke song. Thankfully our CM’s were wise enough to take my testimony into account when they include the moral turpitude laws into the CSJ 420 ordinance. You guys have proven to make bad leadership decisions in the past, learn from your mistakes, and stop lying about how the city is mistreating you. We don’t have millions like you guys do, and we’re managing to make it through just fine.

    • I have attended several meetings with Ms. Gaeta and she is not on the up and up. When me and my associated pointed out serious flaws in the cities plans she called securut and tried to have us thrown out. Some of those flaws are; total lack of access to public transportation, She gives the appearance of maturity but her behavior says something else. I for one have heard so many negative anecdotes about her, combined with my own persona,l experiences i do not think she should be handling the job.

    • Yah all the big players, all the big money. None of these folks are local. Absent from the list is Haze, Herbs, Revolution, Whitefire, and several other locally grown clubs.

      Please don’t think for a minute your opinions represent ours.It doesn’t. If you’re here to actually get medicine to help people, great, but you’re not. You do it purely for profit and to succumb to the will of your corporate overlords. The only reason you are here is because you guys are opportunists. Why don’t you pack your sorry butts up and go back where you came from.

      Seriously this is getting dumb. Please don’t make our industry look like a bunch of stupid stoners again. Stop badmouthing the CM’s office who’s been nothing but completely helpful to all clubs during this process.

      Seriously, stop. You’re not helping.

  4. The chips are beginning ot fall and the city is once again setting itself up for a major headache. There are clubs that have spent tons of money relocating and jumped through every hurdle possible to adhere to the City’s regulations only to suffer rejection at the last minute due to some minor infraction. In the next few days the sheet is going to hit the fan so to speak. YB is gone and a few more that thought they were in the clear will also be closing. This is gonna get ugly.

    • Bull…

      If these other clubs can’t open, tough titties. We just had our final inspection by Sgt Woolsy, and we passed. Our main issue was we didn’t have enough cameras, so instead of crying on SJI about the mean old city San Jose, we just did like they asked, exactly how they asked.

      We needed an addition 40 cameras setup on our property. We called Black Box cabling, they ran cat5 everywhere, punched it down to a patch panel on 2 CPI racks in 2 buildings. After 18 hours they finished their work at 12:40am, and I stayed up till 4am doing the final network/firewall config so SJPD could access our cameras remotely.

      Point I’m trying to make here is we’re definitely not one of these “Big money” clubs. How did we pull it off? Same sage advice I’ve always given my brother-in law.

      Do exactly what the city asks you to do, without argument, and never ever ever give any city employee a hard time. It’s a shame these other clubs with millions of dollars in out of state investors can’t figure this out. Maybe they shouldn’t be in business.

      BTW Metro… We plan on having an opening party soon. Ash Kalra said he’d hang out, as well as a few other local dignitaries. We’re thinking of asking Gordy to scrounge up some band members to come play. Hope we see you there.

      And to the CSJ, thanks for all your help, guidance, and cooperation. We’ve really appreciated it. I will continue to call these folks out on their lying bullcrap. Again, I’m very proud of the headway our city has made towards making laws that make sense, and keep the trash out of this business.

  5. This City needs to pull its head out of the sand . Medicinal Marijuana is here to stay , so why should san jose residents only have the option of only a few Dispensaries allowed by San Jose ? A city this size should allow more and reap the much needed funds that the dispensaries will achieve .

    • Short answer, see San Jose Organics End of discussion. All the answers to the question why, can be found there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *