Freedom to Toke Coalition Fights Pot Smoking Ban in San Jose

In a victory for cannabis consumers, the San Jose City Council Neighborhood Services and Education Committee voted 5-0 on 12/9/2021 to exempt cannabis from a proposed Smoke-Free Housing Ordinance. The ordinance would have banned smoking and vaping of all kinds in multi-unit dwellings.

California NORML joined forces with the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, MPP, ASA and other advocates in urging the council to exempt cannabis from the ban, thus limiting it to tobacco only. Advocates have previously succeeded in defeating cannabis smoking bans in West Hollywood and San Francisco.

In testimony to the council, Cal NORML argued that cannabis smoking is fundamentally different from tobacco smoking:

• Unlike tobacco, which can be legally smoked outside on the streets, cannabis consumption is illegal in all public places in California. Therefore, the proposed ban on residential use would be a de facto ban on cannabis for most San Jose residents.
• Unlike tobacco, cannabis has recognized medical value under California law.
• Unlike tobacco, no study has ever found second-hand cannabis smoke to be dangerous to human health. This is even more true of vaping.

Cal NORML also pointed out that the proposed policy would inequitably impact lower-income and minority residents who can’t afford their own homes.

The San Jose ordinance still has to go before the full City Council, where six votes are needed for passage. However, it goes with the support of five members who have already approved the cannabis exemption.

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