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Friday, March 12, 2010

S.J. Pot Rush Over? City Shuts Down First Club, Albeit Briefly.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 4:15 PM

It wasn't a raid by kevlar-clad law enforcement and no medicine was seized, but medicinal cannabis advocates still felt a twinge of anxiety -- you can take something for that, we hear -- when the city's first pot club, the San Jose Cannabis Buyers Collective, received an eviction notice from its landlord last week.

The landlord was spooked by a Feb. 28 cease and desist letter, in which the City of San Jose declared the SJCBC a "public nuisance" and informed said landlord that such a problem tenant must be evicted, or else fines and legal action would ensue. So away went the SJCBC from its location on Monroe Street. ... and up it went again on Stockton Avenue three days later, three miles up the street and conveniently located near the airport.

The city manager's office sent similar C&D letters to every Marijuana collective with a mailing address (delivery services advertised with a cell phone number only are, predictably, harder to locate and subsequently shut down via the power of the pen). That the SJCBC, the first pot club to open in the fall, was the first to close is a coincidence: SJCBC just had a skittish landlord, according to a spokeswoman.

"Ours was just the first to get cold feet," said Erika Taylor-Montgomery, who said that while 32 other clubs and collectives received similar notices, no one else had closed and no fines or legal action had yet been taken. However, she notes, if one goes, more could follow.

While a message for City Manager Debra Figone, whose office mailed the letters, has yet to be returned, there doesn't appear to be any desire on the part of San Jose law enforcement to get involved, nor do city leaders appear keen to call in the troops from state or federal agencies.

However, this whack-a-mole scenario -- where clubs go away and then come back, as long as they can find a friendly landlord willing to play a legal game of chicken with the city -- appears likely to continue until the City Council makes a decision on cannabis club regulation.

City Council member Pierluigi Oliverio introduced an ordinance calling for city staff to implement regulation in October, but had to wait until January for a hearing at a council subcommittee. That committee pushed any discussion or action to the full City Council, which will air the issue for the first time on March 30.

San Jose is not yet Los Angeles, where pot clubs became a runaway train before that city council, years later, imposed some restrictions. "But if the council punts this on March 30, it could be," Oliverio told SF Weekly. "It could be a question of how many [collectives end up suing the city]... these are people [cannabis patients] who have state law on their side, and they're going to fight for it."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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