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Santa Clara Favors Cannabis Dispensaries

Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Tuesday night a majority of the Santa Clara City Council declared support for regulating cannabis dispensaries before January 1, 2018, when California Prop 64’s retail provisions take effect. Council members favored taxing cannabis sales, distribution, and commercial cultivation to raise money for city programs, such as affordable housing and higher-paid educators.

Cannabis laws in Colorado and San Jose were cited as examples to emulate when modifying Santa Clara’s cannabis ordinance.

“How do we control, regulate, and permit this, and tax this fledgling industry?” asked City Council member Dominic Caserta. “Maybe we look at hiring a consultant to help us with this, we need to capture this revenue.”

The public agreed.

“We need to stop being hysterical about cannabis, and stop drawing conclusions when you don’t have enough facts,” said resident Deborah Bress. “It’s about time we come out of the dark ages.”

“There are different ways to consume this product, through edibles, drinks, candies, and other types which have absolutely nothing to do with invading anybody else’s privacy or senses,” said resident Kirk Vartan.

“50,000 people per year are dying from prescription opiods,” said resident Scott Lane. “With legalized cannabis, alcohol use is going down.”

“I strongly feel that the medicinal value of marijuana is limited to pain relief. You take an aspirin and it would probably relieve your pain in the same way,” opined City Council member Patricia Mahan. “I think San Jose probably does have a pretty good ordinance.”

Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers presented an entirely biased and overwhelmingly negative portrayal of the impacts of cannabis’s growing popularity. Some City Council members spoke in favor of harsh bans on anything cannabis, including delivery services, home cultivation, and commercial production.

“Just because Proposition 64 pass, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to adopt it correct?” asked Kathy Watanabe, disappointed.

“We currently ban medical marijuana dispensaries,” clarified a city staff member. “What we cannot do is prohibit indoor grows of up to six plants.”

San Jose has licensed 16 medical cannabis dispensaries since December 2015, four of which are permitted to operate delivery services. The city restricts dispensaries to a tiny smattering of allowed parcels by disqualifying land within 1000 feet of any school or residence. The city council banned cultivation, processing, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of non-medical marijuana under a November 1, 2016 “emergency” ordinance.

Santa Clara City Council will discuss modifying its cannabis ordinance at an upcoming but unscheduled meeting.