San Jose to Limit Medical Marijuana Clubs

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Various types of marijuana are on display at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    San Jose took it's first steps to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday after a tense City Council meeting.

    Council members voted unanimously to authorize the city to shut down dispensaries within 500 feet of schools, day care centers and homes. The move will immediately affect a handful of the city's 60 clubs, which will have to close within a month.

    San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, a proponent of taxing medical cannabis, is happy with the vote. A solid supporter of medical marijuana, he believes in "limited number, limited places, regulated and taxed."

    "A unanimous vote from the city council supported my memo which protects our neighborhoods by limiting where medical cannabis collectives can locate while still insuring compassionate use," Oliverio said in an emailed statement. "In addition, the council will consider taxing medical cannabis on Aug. 3 by placing a ballot measure for the Nov. 2010 election for San Jose residents to help cover our budget deficit."

    Outside City Hall during the meeting, medi-pot patients and advocates rallied against a separate proposal that would place even further restrictions on dispensaries and patients. The emergency ordinance would limit the number of dispensaries in the city to 10, require them to pay nearly $100,000 before going into operation and open up patients' records to city oficials, among other rules. The council will take up that emergency ordinance later. The meeting Tuesday was just to decide on land use, Oliverio said.

    Councilmembers agreed to return Aug. 3 to consider placing a measure on the November ballot to tax pot sales.