Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jun 2014
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2014 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Eric Kurhi
Page: B1


Supervisors Act After San Jose Toughens Rules

Santa Clara County officials Tuesday approved a temporary ban of 
medical marijuana outlets in the mostly rural areas outside city 
limits governed by the Board of Supervisors.

The board's unanimous vote comes after San Jose this month approved 
tougher restrictions expected to sharply reduce the number of pot 
dispensaries within the county's largest city. County officials said 
they worried that pot clubs forced to close in San Jose would 
relocate to county areas.

"There is a concern that this will prompt applicants in 
unincorporated areas," said Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos, 
adding that in 2016 there is likely to be a state initiative to 
legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. "We don't want to 
have the circumstance that due to a lack of planning now, we will 
then have retail sources of marijuana in unincorporated areas."

Supervisors opted for a 45-day moratorium that will prevent pot shops 
from relocating or opening up in such areas until the matter can be 
revisited on Aug. 5, after the board's summer recess.

While San Jose saw a large number of cannabis proponents flood into 
the City Council chamber for the series of meetings that culminated 
in last week's vote, only a few spoke before county officials on 
Tuesday. There are currently no collectives operating in unincorporated areas.

Before Tuesday, Santa Clara County allowed medical marijuana 
dispensaries located in specific zones if they complied with certain 
planning, zoning and public safety requirements. The moratorium 
prevents any new dispensaries from applying to open under those code 
sections. Advocates have argued that they can operate anywhere under 
California's 1996 initiative allowing medical marijuana. But a recent 
state Supreme Court ruling allows local governments to regulate or ban them.

Six dispensaries have popped up since 2009. Five were shut down by 
the Sheriff's Department and code enforcement within a month. A sixth 
was located in a neighborhood that has since been annexed to San Jose.

Supervisors expressed concerns that dispensaries have increased 
marijuana use among high school students. But some also said they 
wanted to make sure that those with ailments who genuinely benefit 
from the drug have a place to purchase their medicine.

"I want to keep it open enough that if it turns out there's no other 
place for people to go, there is still the possibility of people in 
the county getting it for compassionate use," said Supervisor Ken Yeager.

Another aspect that will be examined involves regulation. The 
county's Environmental Health Department as well as weights and 
measures officials could conceivably play a role in helping San Jose 
keep collectives in check, with food inspections for cannabis edibles 
as well as certifying scales and scanners to ensure products contain 
the stated quantity of product sold.

Supervisor Joe Simitian called it frustrating that despite voters 
approving of the medical use of marijuana nearly two decades ago, 
very little in terms of regulatory aspects on the federal, state and 
local level have been developed.

"This is more than timely in terms of saying it's time to sort this 
out," he said, "and I think this is a good effort."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom