San Jose officials are relaxing cannabis regulations and instead want to refocus efforts to end the black market industry. The San Jose City Council unanimously voted to reduce fines on dispensaries that violate city policy. Council members also expanded hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The move is aimed at helping the legal cannabis industry remain competitive and profitable, but officials said there is more work to be done to crack down on illegal weed sales.

A dispensary will receive a $250 fine for a first-time violation, lowered from $1,200. That can escalate into $5,000 for a litany of reasons, including repeat offenders, issues with registration, or failure to display identification badges clearly. In comparison, a first offense in Redwood City is $100.

Councilmember Peter Ortiz wants to take changes a step further by having the San Jose Police Department’s cannabis division prioritize regulating smoke shops instead of hyper-focusing on legal cannabis dispensaries. He said smoke shops should be more top of mind because they’ve become the de-facto spots for selling illegal cannabis products.

Ortiz’s stance includes a policy that would pause business licenses for smoke shops, which he hopes to introduce next year. “I’m concerned about the overconcentration of smoke and vape shops, which have been illegally selling cannabis, nitrous oxide, and in some occasions even mushrooms. I’ve seen this personally,” Ortiz told San José Spotlight. “You could throw a stone in East San Jose and hit a smoke shop.”

Read more at sanjosespotlight.com