As has been the case in other pockets of the state, medical marijuana collectives showed they wouldn’t take new regulations lying down when they corralled around a referendum to repeal new rules in the city of San Jose. Back in September, we relayed that the City Council had taken steps to regulate the medical marijuana industry through the approval of limits on the number of businesses that can legally operate. The ordinance provoked outrage among pot advocates because the council stipulated that only 10 dispensaries would be allowed to stay open when there were over a 100 operating in the city.
Notably, a referendum effort was able to collect 49,000 signatures in a month to repeal the law. In response, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has indicated that the city may be willing to amend the ordinance it passed in order to make it less strict. Reed commented that “My preference is that we can negotiate some kind of ordinance that we can all live with." Increasing the number of dispensaries allowed to operate would be foremost among the concerns of collectives, but a majority of the council may be unwilling to change course.
There is another option as well, based on previous comments made by the Mayor. Reed has said in the past that if a referendum effort was successful, then the issue should be put to the voters to have a final say. To pay for the costs of the election in cash-strapped San Jose, the mayor proposed raising the city's tax on medical marijuana collectives from 7 to 10 percent.
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters has already concluded that the referendum drive gathered the necessary number of qualified signatures, thereby leading to the suspension of the ordinance. Time will tell if the council will repeal the law, call a special election, or put it on the ballot in June.