Dozens of marijuana dispensaries in San Jose are banding together in protest of new city restrictions that would force more than 70 of them to shut their doors due to new city restrictions.
Owners, employees and supporters of the pot clubs gathered in front of San Jose City Hall on Thursday afternoon to fight back, and they're encouraging the community to join in: The clubs were offering a voucher for a free medical marijuana evaluation to the first 1,000 people who show up.
People who qualify will get a free medical marijuana ID card
“We’re passing them out to San Jose residents,” said David Hodges, director of the All-American Cannabis Club. “And there’s nothing wrong with passing out coupons.”
The city of San Jose now has some of the strictest rules regarding marijuana dispensaries, including where they can set up shop and the hours they can keep.
Dispensary owners say the regulations are unrealistic.
Among the requirements:
- Dispensaries must grow pot on site, in select industrial areas.
- They have to have around-the clock security, although they can only be open during select hours during the day.
- No one under 18 is allowed in.
- No one can use pot in the store.
The regulations are scheduled to go into effect on July 18.
In addition to gathering to protest at City Hall, organizers are also encouraging marijuana supporters to sign a petition for a referendum allowing the clubs to stay in business. Dispensary owners told NBC Bay Area they have enough signatures, though their petition has not yet been filed.
While shutting down the majority of the existing pot clubs in the city will certainly cut into the $5 million in tax revenue, the majority of people polled in San Jose have said repeatedly they want rules in place to keep pot out of the hands of kids and to cut down on crime that sometimes happens in the area around dispensaries.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is adamant the ordinance is necessary and it is what citizens want.
“We need to have strong and effective regulatory ordinance that controls marijuana, keeps it out of our neighborhoods, keeps it out of our school and keeps it away from our kids,” Reed said.
Under the ordinance, pot shops will have a year to comply.