Medical marijuana advocates in San Jose, California, want the local government to regulate their industry instead of shutting it down.
On Monday, an advocacy group called the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition filed an initiative for a November ballot proposal that would prevent city leaders from closing most of the 80 or so dispensaries operating within the city. It would also create a regulatory structure for dispensaries in the city.
The group has until May 16 to collect 20,372 signatures to get its proposal on the November ballot.
The initiative would establish a minimum of 50 medical marijuana dispensaries within the city, and it would prevent new dispensaries from opening within 1,000 feet of a school.
It would also create an 11-member cannabis coalition to act as a regulatory group. The group would be overseen by a city employee.
The lack of a statewide regulatory framework in California has led to cities enacting their own rules for medical marijuana. San Jose currently does not have a regulatory body for its medical marijuana industry, which generates $5.4 million each year from a 10% sales tax.
San Jose’s city leaders are trying to shut down the dispensaries by enacting rules that prevent the shops from operating near residential areas, which would effectively put more than 99% of the city off-limits. In December, the city began sending letters to dispensaries ordering them to cease operations or face big fines and potential prosecution because of their proximity to residential areas.
The upcoming mayoral election could decide the fate of the city’s dispensaries. Five candidates are running to replace termed-out Mayor Chuck Reed. One candidate, Councilwoman Rose Herrera, has led the charge to shut down the dispensaries.