Up in smoke: San Jose’s cannabis laws + regulations

Over the past year, San Jose has loosened certain restrictions for cannabis in the city — let’s see what the new guidelines are + how we may see them play out over this next year.

Two men harvest the buds from cannabis plants.

Let’s see how the new cannabis regulations will play out in SJ this year.

Did you know that San Jose is the only city in Santa Clara County that has cannabis storefronts?

In recent years, City Council voted on several cannabis rules + regulation changes — many of which go into effect this year.

Cannabis sales generate ~$18 million for annual city taxes, and now we’re seeing more leniency on rules from the city. Let’s talk about it.

The inside of Airfield Dispensary showing several budtender counters and line stanchions.

Step inside, and a budtender will help you with the rest.

The next episode

So what’s new? Here’s a brief timeline:

February 2022 — Changes in zoning laws were approved, so 21 new dispensaries could open in commercial locations, as opposed to just industrial zones.

November 2022 — City Council adjusted policies to remove a restriction that barred retailers from opening in high-crime areas, and also increased the amount of cannabis business licenses in the city from 16 to 37.

June 2023 — The distance between dispensaries and schools, day care centers + other community spaces decreased with the aim to not have an over-concentrated area of storefronts.

November 2023 — Dispensary fines were reduced, and hours of operation expanded from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

A Google Maps screenshot of the outside of Purple Lotus.

Purple Lotus reported $25 million in revenue in 2022.

Screenshot via Google Maps

What’s the difference?

With new guidelines for cannabis storefronts approved, changes will begin as early as next month.

Purple Lotus, located on the corner of Commercial Street + Old Oakland Road, will soon open its second location — right in downtown.

The family-owned dispensary leased the former Peet’s Coffee Shop space at 66 W. Santa Clara St., becoming the first cannabis dispensary in downtown.

As the city works to revitalize downtown, both Ritchie Commercial real estate firm president Mark Ritchie, who managed the lease, and owner Matt Krishnamachari believe this is a step in that direction.

The new location is expected to open in February-March this year.

And one more thing: As you start to see more options around town, don’t forget the city’s general rules for personal use.