Just Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Already

It’s déjà vu all over again, with apologies to Yogi Berra. The San Jose City Council once again passed an ordinance that could effectively put all medical marijuana collectives out of business.

The city will lose an estimated $5.9 million revenue. The last time the city attempted this route, the reaction was swift and resounding. Close to 47,000 signatures were gathered to overturn the restrictive law. This time, advocates should simply go for full legalization, with appropriate regulations to bypass the elected officials who clearly don’t understand the policy or the politics.

Washington and Colorado have already legalized marijuana for general consumption and they tax it. A recent poll showed 55 percent of Californians favor legalization. Previous polls show people in San Jose support for medical marijuana.

That said, there are some bad actors in the business. Those participants need to be drummed out of town. But those who operate within the law, pay their taxes and contribute to the health of their patients should be rewarded, not shut down.

The city already has the tools to do this. Whether it is a lack of resources or negligence, officials have chosen not to take decisive action against those bad actors, thus putting good operators at a competitive disadvantage. It also creates a crisis—mostly overstated—for those neighborhoods affected by unscrupulous operators.

But the answer isn’t to pass an overreaching ordinance on collectives. The key is to enforce and strengthen the current law and provide agencies with the tools to go after those who are not in compliance with existing rules. Such a tactic would actually increase revenues and solve most of the local neighborhood problems, which are associated with bad dispensaries.

A more progressive approach would be to enforce existing law and pass an ordinance completely legalizing marijuana for general use. Given voter sentiment, that bus has already left the station and San Jose would be the first city in the state to acknowledge what is currently only a matter of time.

Of course that would not fly in the face of existing state and federal law, but hey, we are San Jose. We passed pension reform with a complete disregard for existing law. It’s just the way we roll.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. Another in a long line of Bad Decisions by this Mayor and Council. These Collectives will simply go to another City and be taxed there. San Jose will have lost out on Millions of Dollars again . Cant stand this Inept Mayor and Council. this City needs new leadership and a new Council !

  2. The council did not seem to care about medical marijuana since 2011 when the BAN was overturned by the voters. Now that 1/2 are running for mayor in 2014, they are using the “evil” marijuana platform that is hurting our children whom they care so much about. I hope the citizens of San Jose wakes up and sees these crooked local politicians for who the truly are.