Santa Clara City Council members voted to ban all cannabis-related activity in a 5-1 vote on Feb 11.
Santa Clara residents will now watch on from the bench as other California cities embrace the booming cannabis industry.
“There’s room to discuss options other than a ban and gauge residents’ feelings further,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmore as quoted on the San Jose Spotlight website.
City officials claimed the decision does not contradict voters’ 2018 approval of Measure M, which authorized a 10% tax on recreational cannabis sales. San Jose Spotlight reported that the measure simply asked whether the city should collect taxes if a cannabis program were to be established.
“If you’re going to profit off of something that’s been putting people in jail for decades, those people should be let out first,” San Jose City College student Skylar Williams said.
Spotlight reported the provisional ban is to help ensure the city and its beneficiaries have time to consider how much they will benefit financially if and when sales are approved.
“Cannabis is here — the nose never fails to tell you — whether we like it or not,” Councilmember Teresa O’Neill said. “ I don’t know that I’m ready for a ban, but maybe we put a pause on it and waste all the effort that has gone into it.”
Mayor Gillmor said she expects negative fallout from residents and groups that supported Measure M. It allows the city to levy a 10% tax on recreational cannabis sales and a $25-per-square-foot tax on space for pot cultivation, San Jose Spotlight reported.
“Why are you gonna ban something when the laws have already been passed?” SJCC student Justin Gregory said.
Founder of Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance Sean Kali-Rai said the ban ignores the Measure M vote and wastes years of effort and research into regulations for legalized cannabis activity.
“Santa Clara will miss out on potential tax revenues from cannabis sales,” according to an article by Kali-Rai published on the San Jose Spotlight website. “Consumers and their money would simply cross the city line into nearby municipalities like San Jose.”
According to San Jose Spotlight, San Jose ended up collecting about $13 million in taxes from pot sales in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and the 2018-2019 adopted budget for the marijuana business tax totaled $13.5 million.
City Manager Deanna Santana said via San Jose Spotlight, “The provisional ban is to help ensure the city and its beneficiaries have time to consider how much they’ll financially benefit.”
Santana said the council can undo the decision at any time.