.Pot Talks

MEETING OF THE MINDS: Former state Sen. John Vasconcellos has joined talks between city officials and medical cannabis advocates. Courtesy of Capitol Weekly

WHILE SAN JOSE’S newly suspended medical marijuana regulations float in legal limbo, Metro has learned that city officials have held meetings with cannabis activists to find a compromise. After the City Council approved tough regulations on the city’s unbridled dispensaries, cannabis activists gathered 47,000 signatures calling for a referendum against a law that they call “unworkable.” The County Registrar of Voters is currently verifying the petition signatures.

Neither Mayor Chuck Reed nor Citizens Coalition for Patient Care Chairman James Anthony would say much about the meetings. Nor did they say who first stretched out the proverbial olive branch. Reed says the first meeting was “preliminary” and that the second was scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22. Former state Sen. John Vasconcellos also took part in the first meeting, but he declined to comment about any progress in the talks.

The mayor says he’s unsure what middle ground would be, but dispensaries would have to be in compliance with state law, “so that’s the place where we start.” However, both sides say that the law requires substantial differences to the previous ordinance. This would likely mean an increase to the cap of 10 collectives.

Even in the absence of clear city guidelines—or even state and federal guidelines, for that matter—San Jose is still targeting certain dispensaries. Last month, this column profiled Golden State Care Collective owner Corinne Reyes, who set up shop close to St. James Park so she could provide cheap cannabis to patients with limited means. The former provider of pro-bono legal advice wanted to create a safe space to refer her clients to local social services.

Reyes now says that after her lease expired in late October, her landlord, David Taxin, more than doubled her monthly rent, from $1,500 to $3,200. Initially shocked, Reyes decided she could afford it. But, she says, that after she agreed to pay the increased rent, Taxin then gave her until December to move her business elsewhere. “Please keep in touch and let me know the status of your move,” Taxin writes in an email Reyes provided to Metro. “Thanks for always paying your rent on time.” Taxin did not reply to interview requests.

Taxin also forwarded Reyes an Oct. 19 letter from San Jose’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement, which said Golden State neighbors had complained the business was a creating public nuisance.

Michael Hannon, the code-enforcement official who wrote the nuisance notice, tells Metro that Golden State is just one of six to 10 cannabis dispensaries the city is pursuing for code violations. That number will grow as Hannon focuses on others with loitering issues, those not paying the city’s cannabis sales tax, or those violating state law that prohibits dispensaries within 600 feet of schools.

“The ones that we’re focusing on are those business that we’ve received multiple complaints regarding nuisance-related activities, and that would be the case with Golden State,” says Hannon.

Reyes believes her neighbors have a sort of not-on-my-sidewalk attitude when it comes to the poor, and she is seeking legal counsel. “I’m trying to help this population, and now I need help,” Reyes says.

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