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New Year, New Rules

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The Bay Area’s most populated city recently approved recreational sales at existing medical cannabis dispensaries. On November 14, the San Jose City Council unanimously voted to allow its medical cannabis dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis to adults over the age of 21. The decision reflects the will of the city’s residents, who voted in favor of Proposition 64 last year with 57 percent approval.

Per the city council’s plan, medical cannabis dispensaries would have to apply to sell recreational cannabis, pay the registration fee and undergo inspections. The changes include amendments to Title 6 (business licenses and regulations) and Title 20 (the zoning ordinance) for medical and non-medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation. San Jose’s 16 licensed dispensaries will now be permitted to sell cannabis to any customer age 21 and over, beginning on January 1.

Sean Kali-rai is owner of Jackson and Main, LLC, a respected business advisory and lobbyist company, and founder of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance. “San Jose’s decision to allow recreational cannabis sales did not surprise me,” Sean Kali-rai told CULTURE. “I have been involved with San Jose’s cannabis industry prior to 2015 when I assisted seven of the 16 licensed dispensaries obtain their permits. At that time I realized that if we received permits as an industry, which we did, we would be held to a higher standard and had a responsibility to go beyond being good corporate citizens.”

Palo Alto, Campbell, Foster City, Hayward, Davis and Martinez have all taken steps to ease cannabis sales. “The other thing I realized through the permitting process was that we needed to get the industry and every little decision out of the political and professional management arena and to the reasonably non-partisan police department,” Kali-rai added. “Two years later and with a $105 million dollar legal cannabis market, the memorandum recommending adult-use was authored by the San Jose Police Chief, Edgardo Garcia.” The 11-0 vote by the city council affirmed that the local cannabis industry has been a good corporate citizen and that the police department can adequately regulate the industry.

Although voters in every Santa Clara County city voted in approval of Proposition 64, local jurisdictions have the say-so in the end. “I believe cannabis is better off in the hands of regulated businesses than where it has always been—in the hands of black market peddlers,” Kali-rai said. “That said, the transition into a regulated market is absolutely a painful endeavor but the perils of a black market are too great not to migrate to legalization.” Now that voters effectively gave the green light to recreational cannabis in California, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to acknowledge the will of the voters.

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