Reality Check: Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulations in San Jose, Reasonable?

On a day when California voters hit the polls to cast their ballots in the local and state primary races, the San Jose City Council took another stab at regulating medical marijuana shops within the city limits.

As things stand, there are more than 90 dispensaries in San Jose, scattered throughout the city. City leaders say some are too close to schools, community centers, homes, rehab clinics and other “sensitive use” facilities, and they want to impose a “buffer zone” between the clubs and these “sensitive use” facilities.

The zoning regulations that council members debated today would essentially create about seven clusters throughout the San Jose where pot dispensaries, both existing and new, could set up shop.

Are San Jose’s proposed zoning regulations reasonable?

The short answer is yes. But that is the context of comparing San Jose to other big cities and the number of pot shops that are allowed to operate.

This was the point that Mayor Chuck Reed, who’s leading the charge to regulate pot shops, made at today’s council meeting: "In San Diego they allow 36; Seattle, they allow 20; L.A. has 134; and, Denver, 102. So I don’t think we’re going to get 623 [marijuana] collectives, or anywhere near that number, but we certainly have a lot of opportunities.”

NBC Bay Area looked into the cited stats for the California cities, and Reed is right when it comes to San Diego and Los Angeles. He’s also right in stating that his proposal would create more than 600 locations for marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city’s limits – this according to the San Jose’s planning division and their analysis of the mayor’s proposal.

Like Los Angeles and San Diego, the regulations would create a buffer zone of 1,000 feet between pot shops and those “sensitive use” facilities.

However, opponents of San Jose’s zoning proposal argue that it’s too restrictive – their main contention was that another cluster of pot shops be allowed to operate in the North San Jose area, near major industrial parks that play host to a number of big tech companies.

At the end of today’s meeting, the council deadlocked on a 5-5 vote on medical marijuana zoning and operating regulations, and they agreed to take up the issue again on June 10.

If the council ends up passing the regulations, opponents promise to fight them with a referendum. However, the Mayor is vowing to mobilize all necessary resources to fight any repeal effort that would cut into his regulations.

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