Palo Alto voters will decide whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits during the upcoming Nov. 6 election. A yes vote on Measure C would amend the Palo Alto Municipal Code to allow for three retail marijuana dispensaries that could be located in any commercially or industrially zoned area.
Dispensaries would have to be 1,500 feet from residential zones, 600 feet from schools and 500 feet from public libraries, public parks, day care centers or substance abuse rehabilitation centers.
The measure requires the dispensaries to operate only between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., with no children under the age of 18 to be admitted to a dispensary unless they are patients and accompanied by a parent or guardian. Marijuana consumption on the premises of a dispensary will be prohibited, but dispensary owners will be allowed to grow marijuana on the premises.
If Measure C passes, Palo Alto will become the only municipality on the Peninsula with medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Palo Alto City Council voted unanimously against Measure C’s approval.
The measure stipulates that the dispensaries would be taxed at a 4 percent rate. San Jose, another Bay Area municipality that allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within its borders, taxes at a rate of 7 percent.
However, if Measure C does pass, any potential dispensary owner would have to first locate a storefront to operate out of. Currently, the downtown Palo Alto vacancy rate is hovering at about 2 percent, with an approximately $3-per-square-foot rent rate (a number that is relatively high for commercially zoned districts) according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Palo Alto City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in 1996, and since then none have operated in the city.
– Alice Phillips