San Jose's medical marijuana industry is in big trouble. About 70 of the cannabis dispensaries in Northern California's largest city could start closing in four days under onerous new zoning rules passed by the City Council last month.
To stop that, marijuana activists need to go to the ballot. And to get voters excited about saving weed businesses in San Jose, activists are giving away free weed.
About 100 pounds of it, to be exact. Also on tap, free of charge: the medical marijuana recommendations required to smoke it all. All you need to do is sign a petition.
The giveaway is organized by the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition, a group of dispensary operators, lawyers and other folks who rely on medical marijuana for their daily bread. They tried to stop San Jose's politicians -- including outgoing Mayor Chuck Reed and the council members scrambling to replace him -- from passing zoning laws that restrict cannabis clubs to industrial areas of town, thereby ensuring that the lion's share of current weed stores are out of compliance with zoning laws.
It's more or less doomsday for legal weed in the South Bay, some activists claim.
San Jose's new regulations require all medical marijuana concentrates, edibles and topicals be produced on-site, by the collective; something that's virtually impossible for the dozens of businesses currently operating in the city. Medical marijuana vendors statewide will not be allowed to provide any products to collectives in San Jose. Outdoor growing is banned as are medical marijuana patients ages 18 to 20 from working at, or even getting medication from, collectives.
"While the mayor claims there are 'hundreds of potential locations,' the fact is, even in the best case scenario, it would be hard if not impossible for anyone to operate a club under these new regulations," said Dave Hodges, founder of the All American Cannabis Club (A2C2)."And of the potential locations, only a handful are available to lease for a cannabis club."
And if the clubs go, so do hundreds of jobs at dispensaries, including the union jobs at United Food and Commercial Workers-organized dispensaries.
But enough about that. Onto the free weed. The new rules can be circumvented if a referendum for the ballot can be qualified. To do that, lots and lots of signatures are needed -- and to get those signatures, dispensaries have pledged to give away up to 100 pounds of pot.
The Coalition says they've secured commitments for 45,000 free grams of weed, the prize for anyone who signs the petition. Along with those are commitments from doctors for 30,000 free medical marijuana recommendations.
So if you're a San Jose voter who likes marijuana, now's your chance to grab some before it's all gone.