UPDATE: Milpitas officials approve cannabis ban modifications
A new cannabis law goes into effect January 2024 that will permit deliveries to cities that prohibit dispensaries. File photo.

Milpitas is adjusting its cannabis ban on deliveries, just in time to comply with new state laws in January and establish guidelines to avoid being usurped by more lenient regulations.

The Milpitas City Council voted 3-1 to amend its existing laws on how to deliver medical cannabis locally, as well as research ways to strengthen other parts of the city’s ban. The new law stops cities from banning the delivery of medical cannabis within their borders. Vice Mayor Evelyn Chua and Councilmembers Garry Barbadillo and Anthony Phan voted in support, while Councilmember Hon Lien voted against and Mayor Carmen Montano abstained.

Under the approved changes, direct delivery to specific patients within the city will be legal. The new law calls for either a doctor’s note or a medical marijuana identification card upon delivery.

All businesses wishing to deliver medical cannabis in Milpitas will have to register with the Milpitas Police Department and get a business license from the city. Deliveries will only be allowed between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“I think what the city attorneys are recommending are sensible controls to allow us, when we do come across those situations, to narrow it down, is it in compliance with the law or is it not,” said Milpitas Chief of Police Jared Hernandez.

Barbadillo asked multiple questions about the purpose of the changes and the finer details about Milpitas’ ban on establishing cannabis businesses.

“I’m trying to see if someone could circumvent (our existing city ban) and establish a business in Milpitas,” he said in the meeting.

City Attorney Michael Mutalipassi clarified that the new law does not affect the city’s continued ban on cannabis businesses. He stressed the importance of getting out in front of the state law to give the city control over its approach to the new delivery regulations.

Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance Founder Sean Kali-rai said opening Milpitas to deliveries will make medical marijuana more accessible to residents who are unable to commute to cities where it can be legally obtained.

“The real people you’re impacting are the people who don’t have access,” Kali-rai told San José Spotlight. “They may be disabled or they may have some other thing that’s holding them back from being able to drive and go to a cannabis dispensary in San Jose.”

The city’s existing bans were passed in 2019, after about two years of community outreach through meetings and resident surveys, according to the city report.  The 2018 public survey with 517 responses reported 82.2% of respondents said they did not use cannabis, and 53.3% said they would support banning cannabis delivery services within the city.

About two thirds of all cities in the state have banned commercial cannabis, including medical cannabis, and Kali-rai said these bans have pushed patients to purchase illegal cannabis, which is not held to any safety standards. He added that allowing medical marijuana delivery in the city will be safer for residents.

“Illegal operators are delivering to every city in the county,” he said. “The question then becomes, do you want your constituents and citizens to have access to safe, legal cannabis?”

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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