Medical marijuana outlets in the San Jose area are offering discounts and freebies to people who can prove they voted in Tuesday’s election.
The ballot, which includes primaries for local and statewide offices, does not contain any marijuana-specific issues. But the local political battle over dispensaries has galvanized grass-roots activists, who are recommending that voters trot on over to the San Jose City Council meeting that night where they will be talking about pot regulations.
For those with a short attention span or poor memory, a complete list of the 40 or so cannabis clubs participating in the “Weed for Votes” campaign is scheduled to be published today, according to the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition. Only existing members at the 82 local dispensaries are eligible to participate.
San Jose is considering an ordinance that could keep people under 21 out of a dispensary, including employees and customers. It would also stop collectives from making cash transactions, constrict growing to one local indoor location per collective and effectively move collectives from residential areas to industrial cores by imposing a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and schools, daycares, community centers, libraries, parks and places of worship. Drug rehab centers and homes would have to be 500 feet away.
The measure is similar to one passed by the council in September 2011, but a subsequent referendum drive to repeal it prompted its withdrawal. The council voted to proceed with the new, restrictive ordinance in December and the city immediately started letting pot shops know their days were numbered.
If the council takes up the measure on Tuesday, which is not a certainty, it probably won’t take live public comment. The council can adopt the ordinance or submit it to voters for approval by August 5.
The San Jose marijuana battle occurs against a backdrop of ongoing state and federal legislative clashes and confusion.
Last Thursday, the California Assembly rejected a bill, AB 1894, that would have established statewide rules to help bring order to the chaotic rulemaking in localities across the state by regulating it like alcohol. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) would have been empowered to set minimum statewide standards for cultivation, testing, transportation and sales while permitting local entities flexibility in shaping their own regulations.
The day before the Assembly rejection, the state Senate unanimously approved a rival bill, SB 1262, which keeps more control in the hands of local governments. The bill also contains a number of restrictions on prescriptions from doctors, some of which have been toned down during the legislative process. The bill heads for the Assembly, where it will land in a committee headed by Democrat Tom Ammiano, the author of AB 1894.
The U.S. Attorneys Office, which has been aggressively busting growers, dispensaries and landlords who rent to them since late 2011, claims it would back off if the state takes more control of the industry.
And then, as if to highlight the nation’s schitzophrenic approach to medical marijuana, the House voted later that night to restrict the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from targeting medical marijuana operations in states where it is legal. The 219-189 bipartisan vote was on an amendment to an appropriations bill, sponsored by two Californians, conservative Republican Dana Rohranbacher and Democrat Sam Farr.