A coalition of medical marijuana patients and activists, including former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, kicked off a campaign Wednesday to repeal an ordinance passed by elected leaders that they say will harm patients and the economy.
"It's an abominably poor legislation," the 79-year-old Vasconcellos said at a news conference in front of San Jose City Hall Wednesday. "It doesn't reflect the people's will, the law of the land, and the science."
Vasconcellos, who retired six years ago after serving as a California state legislator for 38 years, is the honorary chair of the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care, a group of patients, collectives, and activists who are challenging the City Council's action via a referendum process.
After a nearly two year-long process, the San Jose City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance that will limit the number of medical marijuana collectives to 10 in limited commercial and industrial areas, implement a first come, first served registration process, and restrict marijuana cultivation to on-site only.
Medical marijuana facilities are not currently allowed to operate in San Jose and those that have opened in recent years are doing so illegally and would not be grandfathered in under the ordinance, according to the mayor's office.
Components of the ordinance include a limitation on the number of collectives to no more than two per district and restricting the collectives from operating in sensitive retail areas, such as ground floors of shopping centers.
The conditions of the ordinance are simply not "workable," Vasconcellos said today. While he hasn't figured out what a practical ordinance would be, he said patients just want a chance to have a say in the matter.
He said by passing this ordinance, the council is ignoring Proposition 215, the ballot measure that voters approved by a 62 percent vote in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana.
"So who are they working for, the minority?" Vasconcellos said. "It's been 15 years since it's been legalized and they're still fighting it."
Vasconcellos is a medical marijuana patient himself and though he lives in Santa Clara, he is a member of Cinnabar Health Collective in San Jose.
The Citizens Coalition for Patient Care has 30 days to repeal the ordinance before it goes into effect. The group is leading an effort to collect 45,000 signatures -- allowing for marginal error -- although the legal requirement is 30,000 signatures.
The group is holding an organizing meeting tonight at the UFCW Local 5 facility, located at 240 S. Market St.