Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2014
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2014 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Mike Rosenberg
Page: B1


Failed Bid to Overturn Strict New Regulations a Victory for the City

SAN JOSE - Pot clubs seeking to overturn strict new medical marijuana
regulations failed in their bid to place an initiative on the ballot,
giving city leaders a victory in the ongoing San Jose weed war.

The vast majority of the city's 80 dispensaries will have to close by
July 2015 under regulations - approved by the City Council last month
- - that limit pot clubs to less than 1 percent of the city's parcels. A
few dispensaries near homes already have shut down.

But in a repeat to a similar 2011 tussle, a ragtag group of marijuana
advocates quickly began gathering signatures in hopes of putting their
own, much looser regulations on the November ballot. They offered
coupons for free weed and referrals for medical marijuana cards to
entice signatures and held "Occupy-style" protests at City Hall.

The group turned in its petition on Friday - appropriately at 4:20
p.m. But the City Clerk's Office on Monday counted the signatures and
found the total to be more than 10,000 shy of the 33,262 registered
voters needed to qualify for the ballot.

"I think it says that the voters agree with the council - that it's
time for sensible regulation," said Councilwoman Rose Herrera, who has
opposed the clubs. "This helps keep them away from schools and
interfering with businesses."

Dave Hodges, the proponent of the initiative, said that at one point
the group thought it had as many as 75,000 signatures. But with a week
to go in the 30-day drive, organizers started checking the names and
discovered most of them were bogus.

"At some locations, 75 to 80 percent of the people who told us they
were registered voters actually weren't," said Hodges, who owns the
All-American Cannabis Club in San Jose.

A separate group that had proposed what it called more moderate
regulations decided not to collect signatures after Mayor Chuck Reed
vowed to personally lead a campaign to defeat any pro-marijuana ballot
measure. That group had successfully fought off regulations approved
in 2011 after collecting enough signatures to qualify a measure for
the ballot, prompting city leaders to backtrack on their plans at the

The fear of a competing ballot measure has shaped the council's
discussion on pot regulations for the past half-decade, with council
members leery of approving changes that would get overturned at the

Ultimately, the council decided not to go the route of about 200
California cities that have prohibited pot shops altogether, citing
city polling data that showed residents were strongly against a ban.
Instead, the council limited the dispensaries to a few select
industrial pockets and enacted costly operating rules such as
round-the-clock security and a requirement to grow marijuana within
Santa Clara County or a neighboring county.

The rules, which are stronger than those enacted in San Francisco or
Oakland, amount to a de-facto ban, medical marijuana advocates say.

"It's going to be a really different San Jose. There will be much
fewer locations," said James Anthony, an attorney who led the 2011
effort and lobbied against the regulations again this year. "At the
moment, it seems like the city's in the driver's seat. There is no
referendum. I'd say at this point, the focus is on complying" with the

Although most shops will have a one-year grace period to move or
close, the rules took effect Friday, allowing club owners who find a
space at one of the eligible parcels to start signing up for their new

In a statement released Monday, Mayor Reed said the new rules are
balanced and fair. "San Jose will now have a strong and effective
regulatory system that meets federal and state guidelines to control
bad behavior while allowing people who are sick to have safe access to
medical marijuana," he said.
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