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Mountain View Wants Weed

Cannabis flowers on display at a medical dispensary in San Jose. Photo: Greg Ramar / San Jose Inside

On Tuesday, September 19 the Mountain View City Council banned all commercial cannabis businesses in the city other than delivery services, but announced interest in allowing medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries to open in the city.

“I was one of the 68 percent of the people in Mountain View who voted yes [on California 2016 Proposition 64], and for many of the reasons stated by the members of the public I support [option two [allowing cannabis dispensaries],” said Mayor Ken Rosenburg at the meeting. “Mountain View is known for its leadership on all sorts of different issues. I can’t see why we wouldn’t be on this issue as well.”

Mountain View would become the 16th city in the San Francisco Bay Area to allow cannabis dispensaries if it were to permit them now. Neighboring Santa Clara is also vying for that title, whose staff were directed on August 22 and again on September 12 to hire a consultant to analyze the city’s options for an ordinance regulating the production and sale of legal cannabis.

“I see this as an opportunity, we’ve been struggling in our commercial districts with attracting retail other than restaurants,” said Vice Mayor Lenny Siegel. “This is something be should be able to go to after their dinner and desert in downtown Mountain View.” But Seigel also stated that “land is too expensive here compared to Humboldt County for any form of commercial cultivation occurring here… it doesn’t make any economic sense.”

The public made it clear we were in favor of cannabis dispensaries opening in Mountain View.

“Unregulated cannabis activity is as easy target for crime,” stated the first speaker, a young man. “In July of this year, UC Irvine published a study stating that cities not regulating cannabis business had a far higher instance of cannabis-related crimes stemming from black market activity.”

“From 2010 to 2015 San Jose’s 92 unregulated cannabis dispensaries were the victims of 7 robberies and breaking and enterings. At yet during that time it was still more dangerous to be a bank teller or convenience store clerk. Since permitting and regulation in 2015, San Jose’s [16] dispensaries have seen zero instances of burglary or breaking and entering,” said the speaker.

It wasn’t just the jobs that drew me to Silicon Valley,” said another young resident. “It was a lot of different things, like the lax culture surrounding cannabis as compared to Austin or New York City.”

“To me if there is a place it’s ok to have a gun store, a liquor store, places that sell alcohol and tobacco, then it should be perfectly fine to have a marijuana store,” said resident Serge Bonte.

But rather than adopting regulations to allow dispensaries to open, the City Council voted unanimously to ban all commercial cannabis activity other than delivery services for 45 days. The city’s staff insisted that even that amount of time would be insufficient to craft an ordinance regulating dispensaries. The council also agreed to continue banning all other businesses, including cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of cannabis products in the city other than deliveries.

Mountain View city staff will return to the City Council with options for regulating and locating cannabis dispensaries in the city on a date to be determined. Stay tuned!