Bay Area’s Biggest City Comes To Its Senses And Lifts Marijuana Ban

San Jose recreational weed shops will be open by New Year's Day.

Photo by Flickr user Ben Loomis

San Jose, the largest city in the Bay Area, will be ready for marijuana customers when California goes legal on Jan. 1. On the same day that San Francisco postponed voting for a plan, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved an ordinance earlier this week that will allow 16 medical marijuana dispensaries already operating in the city to sell for recreational purposes starting on New Year’s Day.

Last year, San Jose banned recreational marijuana retail to allow city officials time to create a regulatory process. The ordinance will also allow the delivery of marijuana to recreational customers. 

“It’s a bold step for the city to take,” Sean Kali-rai, president and founder of Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, told the San Jose Mercury News“It’s about honoring the will of the voters. And because San Jose has figured out how to regulate the medical market, they’re confident moving forward with the recreational market,” said Kali-rai, who represents five San Jose medical marijuana dispensaries.  

The ruling on Tuesday keeps in place current zoning regulations, which outlaws retailers to be in the vicinity of churches, schools and other “sensitive” facilities. The city will not allow more than the current 16 stores.

Councilman Lan Diep had a little fun with puns when lauding San Jose‘s new ordinance. “Our policy should not be a blunt instrument, but rather a high-quality model for other cities to clone. Through smart regulations and taxes, we can weed out bad actors and get our general fund revenues high.”

On the same day San Jose cannabis lovers celebrate, San Franciscans‘ hopes were put on ice. After a contentious debate, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said more time was needed to complete a regulatory framework for cannabis retail. The board will meet in two weeks. If the supervisors hammer out a compromise, it is still possible for sales to begin on Jan. 1.

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