Council Caps Medical Marijuana Clubs

San Jose city councilmembers hope to be able to count the number of marijuana dispensaries on their fingers. The compromise measure authored by Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and approved Tuesday by a split council hopes to reduce the number of city collectives, which currently number more than 100, to no more than 10.

Five councilmembers opposed the measure: three because they thought an arbitrary cap was premature, and two because they wanted to ensure that the only kush sold in San Jose was done so illegally. Long queues for medical marijuana patients and operators applying for permits will no doubt result if the consolidation program is realized.

Plan Nguyen will issue licenses for collectives that pass background checks and meet other tests on a first-come-first-served basis. Before Nguyen’s memo was blessed by Mayor Chuck Reed and councilmembers Pete Constant, Rose Herrera, Sam Liccardo and Nancy Pyle, the draft received some not-so-subtle amendments.

Collectives will now be forced to cultivate on-site—which pretty much ensures that all 10 approved dispensaries will be massive horticultural and vending operations. Other amendments mandate that no more than two collectives can be located within any council district, that retail activity cannot occur on the first floor locations in the downtown area or at major shopping destinations (point, Liccardo) and that anyone with a misdemeanor on their record—even for pot possession, which is now an infraction—could potentially be refused a permit.

The council agreed to forget some, er, unique ideas that had been discussed previously, such as a rule that collective employees be paid in pot, and another outlawing edible products and ointments. Councilmembers Kansen Chu and Xavier Campos, clearly wishing they were back in the pre-Prop 215 1990s, virtually ignored the discussion at hand and held out for a total ban. 

Before the vote, SJPD Chief Chris Moore (who reported that he had in fact voted for Prop. 215), rattled off statistics to show that the collectives are a public-safety threat, and reminded the council that technically all collectives are illegal (well, duh).

Councilmembers Ash Kalra, Pierluigi Oliverio and Donald Rocha, who proffered their own entirely rational motion calling on the city to write a strict set of regulations and then determine the appropriate number of dispensaries, were drowned by the reefer madness hysteria. Instead, the city will adopt a Land Rush permitting approach, virtually ensuring a flood of lawsuits from those left out in the cold.

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. The closing of most Medical Marijuana Collectives in next 1-3 months and eventually all in 6 months has begun in 5 easy steps that will have little political problems for Mayor, Council, City Manager and City Attorney

    1) Limit to 10 legal collectives – done
    So police and code enforcement can start to close 110 + collectives legally and within 6 month close the rest

    2) Limit to commercial non residential areas using zoning laws – done
    Most collectives who have existing leases that will have to be paid off and will have to find and move to new commercial locations

    3) inform all commercial property owners that they are federally criminally liable for knowingly allowing illegel drug activity on their property – will be done in 3-4 weeks
    If some ignore warning have feds bust 3-4 of them and start court action to take their property under federal drug laws

    4) require on site marijuana growing which will require difficult to lease large buildings ( see 3 above ) – done
    Have collective provide city with locations and owners names so feds know where to raid and confiscate buildings due to illegal drugs – soon

    5) Require background criminal check to disqualify anyone convicted and with city’s list of owners and employees feds can then bust anyone who has not been convicted – closing the rest of collectives – soon

    SEE What is REALLY going ON ? –  Wed, Apr 13,

    for who are backroom political players and more details

  2. Anyone want to take a wager that there will be a line of people outside city hall before dawn? I see pandemonium.  Maybe an accusation of “YOU CUT IN FRONT OF ME” and possible a fist thrown or two.

    Everything up to the limit of sites is good. We’re going to see a backlash of lawsuits.  Wonderful!

    While Chief Moore is right about “technically it’s illegal”  technically the age of consent in Nevada is 16, TECHNICALLY it’s 14 in Mexico.  I guess the ONLY thing in the world that determines a right or a wrong is the law.

    • “I see pandemonium.  Maybe an accusation of “YOU CUT IN FRONT OF ME” and possible a fist thrown or two.”

      Not to worry.  I know exactly how to handle this.

      Step 1.  Confront the mob by holding up your hand and forming a peace sign with your index and middle fingers.
      Step 2.  Begin chanting “peaceful, peaceful” to the leftist/union morons.

      What will happen next is the frothing leftist union mob will inevitably quiet down and start chanting “peaceful, peaceful” like a bunch of zombies. 

      See how the “peaceful, peaceful” approach works on Wisconsin union thugs and leftists. – skip ahead to 2:30

  3. My thanks to the San Jose City Council for arriving at this wonderful compromise.

    Also, good to see transparency at the federal level.

    President Franklin Roosevelt is going to be at Facebook headquarters today for a fireside chat.

    Facebook CEO Guglielmo Marconi will moderate the chat.

  4. This is ridiculous!  I don’t see how the community is best served by creating 10 super-dispensaries!

    I know a lot of people that run the current dispensaries.  They include families, former real-estate agents, a mother/son team, first-time entrepreneurs, etc…  None of these will be able to afford a huge mega-complex required to grow multiple strains of cannabis.

    By instituting this amendment the City Council is basically guaranteeing that the only people who will have the financial backing to operate in San Jose will be organized crime – way to go SJCC!

    This amendment institutionalizes all that is wrong with the medical cannabis industry while eliminating all that is good.

    In the name of consistency I demand that the Council now require:
    * all liquor stores/bars to distill their own liquor onsite
    * all tobacconists to grow their own tobacco onsite
    * all pharmacies to make their own medications onsite

    otherwise this opens San Jose up to a myriad of unfair trade restriction lawsuits.  If you don’t think so take a look at the rash of lawsuits in SO. Cal – this will REALLY drain the SJ city budget.

    I know the city council wants to do the right thing (at least I believe that they do) but this is REALLY not it.

    Hopefully, more thoughtful heads (no pun intended) will prevail.

  5. Thanks to the city council for starting to restore sanity to the City of San Jose. Of course this may be the final death blow for Metro as it seems that dope advertisments are the main source of revenue. No wonder that Metro is so uncritical of the dope houses. Is there an equally rational reason for the ultra pro-dope positions of my council member Olivario or is it his already demonstrated delayed maturity?

      • Sanity?

        Just what is his policy? As far as I can see he talks about compassionate use and ignores the reality that most customers and almost all advertisement is geared towards recreational doping. He never will propose anything specific. When I tried to engage him on this site he offered to come to my house but he would offer no specifics in print here. Best I can tell, he wants some sort of regulation and taxation but no limit on the amount of dope business in San Jose. IMHO he is pro-recreational pot use but he is afraid to say it.

        • Very few specifics. A limit. What limit? Seems 10 is too small to get your vote. How about 20? 100? 500?

          Some zoning limitations (minor), some minor fees, some minor restrictions on who can operate a dope store and some taxation. You have spoken in detail about the need to provide dope to severely ill people. What about the obvious abuse of the medical provisions. Just read the advertisements and it is clear that the main reason for the dope stores is to enable recreational drug use. How do you intend to address this?

          If the purpose was truly to provide medicine, why on earth would we tax it. We don’t otherwise tax medications.

          Sam Licardo is addressing this like an adult. The limitations that he added to the proposal that you voted against are in the best interests of the city and his district.

        • wgDad,

          Your presented with information but you are blinded by your minority view since you do not believe there should be even one collective.

          Enjoy your Alcohol and Big Pharma pills.

        • Pierluigi,

          Thank you.

          While this is a minor example, it’s good to see someone in your position respond to unfounded allegations, something you do often in this debate. 

          I appreciated the way you subtly, but effectively, deflated the police chief’s humorous “Reefer Madness” scare tactics at Tuesday’s council meeting. When he cited 7 dispensary-related robberies to support his questionable claim that San Jose’s 125 dispensaries have become major crime magnets, you pointed out that those 7 robberies are statistically quite low when compared to more than 1300 armed robberies of liquor stores, 7/11s, etc. I hope the new chief, who otherwise seems to be off to a good start, learned an important lesson about the importance of not BSing the city’s elected leaders.

          Thanks for being out in front on this issue, for trying to create a workable ordinance in San Jose, and for not allowing misinformation to guide the debate.

        • Hey, I understand why you support Councilman Olivario’s position because you are clearly pro recreational pot. Mr Olivario’s weak proposals would actually codify that position. The positions themselves are just mush. Why not just be honest and say that he wants the dope supply business to be cheap and easy to go into and that San Jose should have an unlimited number of suppliers as long as they meet very minimal conditions. I’d disagree with him but I’d admire his honesty. Right now his position seems two faced.

        • Pierluigi,

          “As adults” makes you sound so optimistic. Based on the comments I’m reading, I don’t believe you will ever win with the folks I call “armchair activists,” so why waste your time?

          On another note, thank you for all you do for the City of San Jose in general. I truly appreciate you, as do many others.


        • Should city government oversee what doctors recommend to patients? That would be a big no.  The State issues the license and it is the State that should take the license away if a Doctor is being dishonest. 
          Who are you or I to say based on prejudgment?

        • Too bad the Chief didn’t mention the exceedingly rampant amount of drug dealing going on right outside and in neighborhoods surrounding the venerable dispensaries! 

          Haven’t you heard? Yes it seems that the poor sick and debilitated victim de jour are using their medical marijuana cards as a license to purchase THEIR “medicine” from the collective at what amounts to wholesale prices then walkout side and sell THEIR “MEDICINE” to whomever is willing to pay the markup.

          there was an article in the Merc a few weeks ago where the unbelieving reporter was stultified by the rampant drug dealing (marijuana selling)  going on outside the collective by patients.

          Now Aaron Brown, I cant sell my Big Pharma pills to anyone without a license to practice medicine or pharmacology and I can’t sell even a beer to anyone under 21 without a license from the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, State Businsess license, County business license, County Health Department License, SJPD permit and City Business license which I cant get until I post public notice that I am going to do business under a “fictitious name” and wait the appropriate amount of time for public comment and a few public hearings in front of the “Planning Commission.”

          So the legal sale and purchase of my big pharma and booze meet the established standards of legitimacy in our society. Their legitimate and responsible consumption has no negative consequences to anyone. Like anything else, the illegitimate and/or irresponsible consumption of alcohol and prescription meds can have negative consequences on individuals and society and can also have negative legal consequences for those whose whole heartedly believe that they aren’t doing anything wrong or harming anyone.

        • Why would I want to meet with Pierluigi when we can have a public dialog right here that others could take advantage of. Councilman Olivario has some proposals that I find weak but that is even beside the point. What his position lacks is context. What is the final objective of his position? Is it to allow reasonable access for the honestly ill individuals that he likes to talk about or is it to do an end-run around the laws prohibiting recreational use? Since I don’t understand how his proposals wound help achieve the first possible objective, I tend to assume the later. This may be unfair but as long as he councilman doesn’t provide a clear narrative, it remains a question. I think he should clearly state what this objectives are and how his proposals would help reach that end. This narrative should not just be made to me personally but to all of the residents of his district and to his fellow council members that he wants to persuade to his position.

          Is that too much to ask?

        • The state of California has legalized distribution to those possessing a prescription for cannabis.

          It is not the within the city’s purview to decide which individual patient’s malady constitutes a ‘legitimate’ claim for cannabis vs. recreational use any more then the city can decide that matter for Vicodin, Valium or any other prescribed medication dispensed within the city (and please don’t tell me that you think that everyone popping a prescribed Vicodin has a bona-fide medical need to do so).

          Please tell us exactly which of Councilman Olivario’s statements provide the insight that he is planning “…to do an end-run around the laws prohibiting recreational use…”?

          Is tat too much to ask?

        • This is so silly it is hard to respond so I’ll take it slow. I’ve heard that slow works for consumers of this medicine. Every polcy has a purpose. If we know the purpose, we can evaluate how effective a proposed policy will be towards achieving its proposed purpose. Mr Olivario has not described what he is seeking to achieve. As you have said, there is a California law which is currently being followed in San Jose. If that is the be-all, end-all, then there is no reason to propose anything else.

          As we have seen however, that law which coexists with a conflicting US federal law (which the current administration is choosing not to enforce at the current time) is being interpreted and carried out very differently by location within the state of California. Many cities are not allowing any legal distribution and the state is following the lead of the federal government in not enforcing its provisions on localities in regard to these conflicting laws.

          All proposals at the local level must have a rational purpose. Mr Olivario has yet to provide a purpose for his proposals other than to perhaps profit from taxing this single “medical treatment”. Why would that be? I think that many of the residents of his district would like to know. I would.

    • “Of course this may be the final death blow for Metro as it seems that dope advertisments are the main source of revenue.”

      You beat me to the punch on this one, WGD.  Remember when their major revenue source was strip clubs and phone sex?  I guess most of the advertising dept. personnel who have the dope clubs as clients will be on the unemployment line soon.

    • So the city council is so desperate for revenue it thinks Big Marijuana is a great idea.  And please with the weepy medical crap.  Even Dave “Fighting the Man” Hodges has dropped the bogus ‘medicinal’ pretense.

      10 Big Marijuana outlets? 
      Better.  But not good enough.

      Zero Big Marijuana outlets.  Done.

      It’s clear that the city council proposals are capricious and arbitrary and should be tabled and delayed until some other city with an even loonier city council gives way and allows Big Marijuana.

      The council needs to get serious, show some leadership, and either declare bankruptcy or put real pension reform on the ballot. 

      This Big Marijuana circus does nothing to address our structural fiscal problems and only serves to showcase the city council’s lunacy and it’s willingness to race to the bottom.

      • Novice – Please explain for all of us reading here – exactly what constitutes “Big Marijuana”?

        From your comments it would seem that any legal marijuana dispensing constitutes “Big Marijuana”.

        Also, could you please educate us on how 100+ storefronts in the city of San Jose paying taxes (including collecting and paying a local 7% cannabis tax) “…does nothing to address our structural fiscal problems…”?

        You have every right to your own opinions but not your own set of facts.

      • So the city is willing to whore itself out for a small cut of illicit Big Marijuana drug money.

        What trick can we expect the city to turn next?  How long before we can expect to see slot machines in our grocery stores? 

        Dear City Council,
        Put this Big Marijuana foolishness on the ballot, let the people vote it down, and be done with it.

        You’re going to need credibility when it comes time to address city insolvency.  ie.  The same council that delivered Big Marijuana outlets, lowlifes, and crime unto our neighborhoods are now asking us to support their pension reform proposal?

        • Dude – why do you keep repeating the same rhetoric?  All these references to ‘Big Marijuana’ with no definition of what the heck you are talking about.

          Seriously, if you post on a discussion board you should be willing to participate in…wait for it…DISCUSSION!

          It looks like you are more interested in merely rattling off unsupported accusations with no response to genuine inquiries about your ideas.

          Seems very troll-like to me.

      • Worried about the corrosive affects of pervasive marijuana on young people growing up in San Jose?

        Did the 2-minute parade of inked up, pierced, glazed over advocates for Big Marijuana on Channel 26 give you pause for concern?

        Me too.

        But Dave, I guess you’re down with watching marijuana destroy young people’s future. 

        Not that I’m surprised, it’s totally consistent with your not caring about the impact that Big Marijuana has on the environment and global warming. 

        BTW what do you do for fun Dave?  Go to the coast and club seals? 

        It’s all about the benjamins with the Big Marijuana shills.  The future of our children, the health of the planet we live on all take a back seat to Big Marijuana operatives making sure they get theirs first.

        Dear City Council,
        Could you stand up in front of a class of school kids, look them in the eye, and explain your vote for Big Marijuana and not feel guilty or ashamed?

        We’re counting on you to hold your ground and do right by the young people, the families, and the good folks that call San Jose home.

        Don’t sell us out for Big Marijuana drug money.

        • Novice: “Did the 2-minute parade of inked up, pierced, glazed over advocates for Big Marijuana on Channel 26 give you pause for concern?”

          No, Novice, I am not prejudiced against people with tattoos or piercings – and there is no such thing as “Big Marijuana”;

          Novice: “But Dave, I guess you’re down with watching marijuana destroy young people’s future.”

          Marijuana is not destroying young people’s future;

          Novice: “Not that I’m surprised, it’s totally consistent with your not caring about the impact that Big Marijuana has on the environment and global warming.”

          It’s not that I don’t care about it – it’s that the ‘impact’ is so infinitesimal so as not to concern me (I know you quotes some bloated hysterically inaccurate, undocumented hyperbole =- please don’t repost that garbage);

          Novice: “BTW what do you do for fun Dave?  Go to the coast and club seals?”

          Wow – how did you know?  That’s exactly what I do for for fun;

          Novice: “It’s all about the benjamins with the Big Marijuana shills.  The future of our children, the health of the planet we live on all take a back seat to Big Marijuana operatives making sure they get theirs first.

          a) there is no such thing as “Big Marijuana”;
          b) “It’s all about the benjamins with the {insert industry here} shills.  The future of our children, the health of the planet we live on all take a back seat to {insert industry here} making sure they get theirs first.

  6. Please everyone should mellow out and take a big toke. Hold it in and extra second or two longer then exhale.

    These dispensaries have always been ILLEGAL. That isn’t some old square trying to be a buzz-kill – it is a fact that even the most baked collective CEO will attest to.

    My question to all of you is this: If some government entity were to shut every club in the state down in the next thirty seconds and employee any number of persons paid any amount of money to keep existing clubs closed as well as provide a service that prevents future clubs from opening:

    Where would you get your “medicine?”

    Answer: the same place(s) you got it before the first club was ever a dollar sign in a drug dealer’s bank account!  You would score your shiiiite on the street OR just grow the stuff yourself!!!!  Nobody is stopping you from being your own physician and healing yourself! 

    Come on green thumbs stop being so lazy and grow a little for “personal use.”

    • No kidding Professor.
      Get on with your own low lives, potheads. Do whatever you need to do to obtain your weed, but quit seeking legitimacy by forcing the rest of us to be a party to your degenerate habit.
      ‘Medicinal’ my ass.

      • “Medical” marijuana is just about the biggest scam ever to hit sunny California.

        There has been a legal, yet cumbersome, way to get pot from your doctor legally under FEDERAL law since at least 1986.  That’s when my Dad’s doctor told him it was “possible” for him to get it legally by prescription.  The Doc went on to say that the process took weeks, perhaps months (my Dad had just a couple of months to live) to get approval, and the weed wasn’t very good at that.  He advised my Dad to get some street weed, which he did.  But my Dad didn’t like it much, and said it did little to alleviate his cancer symptoms anyway.

        Forget the “medical” pot scam.  Just legalize it nationwide, and at the same time triple the penalties for driving under the influence of it or selling it to minors.  The cop, court, and prison resources wasted on simple possession are huge, and unnecessary.

      • Please explain to us how having dispensaries that you are free to NOT visit (like you are free to NOT visit bars, or NOT smoke cigarettes) forces you in any way to be a party to it?

        I guess as a society we should only seek to legitimize the habits of which you approve.

        How is the ‘habit’ of smoking pot is in any way different than other ‘legitimate’ habits of smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or even eating unhealthy food?

        I am dying to hear your rationale.

  7. The city should have an additional requirement that the “Doctor” dispensing perscriptions or providing medicinal marijuana cards be licensed in the state of California and that his/her picture be prominately displayed.

  8. “The council agreed to forget some, er, unique ideas that had been discussed previously, such as a rule that collective employees be paid in pot..”

    Do you suppose that’s how they pay for their vast advertising space in Metro?  What about the strip clubs and phone sex advertisers?

  9. Doctors prescribing cannabis in California are already required to meet all of the same legal requirements as any other doctor in the state – there is not a separate classification of “may only prescribe cannabis”.

    An excerpt from the MediLeaf website:

    Q: Can my alternative medicine Doctor recommend the use of Medical Cannabis for the relief of my pain or symptoms?
    A: Only a Medical Doctor authorized to practice medicine in the State of California can provide you with a written recommendation need to obtain a California I.D. for the use of medical cannabis.

    Though your Chiropractor, Acupuncturist or other heath care provider is licensed by the State of California, they are not able to provide you with a recommendation that will be recognized by the State of California.

    Under current law at the time this was written Medical Doctors can not prescribe medical cannabis, they can only recommend its use to you when other forms of treatment prove to be unsatisfactory in relieving your symptoms.

  10. If you review your Council/Committee meetings back to 2009, you’ll discover how SJ got where it is: A) the only elected officials who took a middle-of-the-road stance were Council members Kalra, Rocha and Oliverio (read ALL the staff reports/Council memos if you doubt it) B) Liccardo did what was best for him, not the city. C) Chu stated early on he didn’t favor co-ops because “it could lead to legalizing other Asian herbs.” (You can look it up) D) Campos was using his sister’s usual ‘don’t take a stand on something that might be controversial.’ So we still don’t know what’ll happen once/if he begins acting for himself. E)Constant is ex-SJPD. Did anyone really expect him to favor the patients? F) Reed and Herrera found it easier to swallow the SJPD’s/City staff’s line of bloated and/or falsified data (which helps explain why Herrera runs through staff aides like water) G) Nguyen had a chance to distinguish herself in the early going to be our city’s next Mayor and Pyle to control a reasonable approach to regulation… but Nguyen panicked and Pyle punted.

  11. I have a question. Maybe I’ve overlooked it on this blog. If these dispensaries will be dispensing prescribed “medication” (the marijuana), wouldn’t they have to have a pharmacist do the dispensing or are they allowed to have every day folk/owners/staff do the dispensing? If so, that does not sound too legal. If they are considering marijuana a medicine, then it should be dispensed by medical people, right?

    • Actually dispensing by cooperatives and/or collectives is protected and was even further defined by SB 420 passed in October, 2003.

  12. Man, it is thick in here. There are some very good and thought out statements (Dave, AB, Sanity, & Pierluigi) but most of you are living in the 1930’s. You need a real education. Your ignorance and arrogance comes shining through with your knowledge of marijuana, it’s laws and the information that we know of. I pray that those of you who hate marijuana never need it medically. I doubt through your pride that you could ever come to see the many benefits of cannabis and that is very sad. I would have to say that the best comment was about how bad for the environment cannabis is. Actually it would contribute to the well-being of the earth. It is one of the greatest renewable resource for food, fuel and fiber. Also, one other note; The person who stated that there’s a federal marijuana program, he’s correct. There is one but it has had only nine participants since its inception in the mid-1970. There are currently four or five people in the program. The others died and it is closed to new patients. That right there is a contradiction at its best. A government which lists marijuana as a Scheduled 1 Narcotic (highly addictive, no know medical value) has its own medical marijuana program. Pure hypocrisy. To all those who want the dispensaries shut down, you are just inviting litigation, the Mexican drug cartel, drug dealers and real crime into the city. If I was a black-market marijuana dealer, San Jose is looking pretty good for business right now. Good luck to all the patients who will be denied access.

  13. @Just Tuning In

    Medical cannabis in California is a recommendation from a Dr. The recommendation allows the patient to posses, distribute, manufacture, and cultivate medical cannabis. It is also a legal defense to the courts of California. It is not a medicine in the legal sense of the law or under the federal government. Patients and caregivers are the ones to provide medical cannabis to other patients.

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