Palo Alto Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Initiative, Measure C (November 2012)

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A Palo Alto Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Initiative, Measure C was on the November 6, 2012, ballot for voters in the City of Palo Alto in Santa Clara County, where it was defeated.[1]

If it had been approved, Measure C would have:

  • Created a 4% sales tax on all medical cannabis sales.
  • Allowed three not-for-profit dispensaries to open in the city. The dispensaries would have to pay an annual $10,000 licensing fee.[2]
  • Designed "operational, procedural and zoning requirements" for those dispensaries.[1]
  • Hours of operation of the dispensaries would have been limited to between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.[2]

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been banned in Palo Alto since 1997.[1]

Election results

Measure C
Defeatedd No18,32262.77%
Yes 10,868 37.23%
Final official results from the Santa Clara County elections office.


Thomas Moore, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, launched the effort to qualify the initiative for the ballot. He said, "I’ve seen research that suggests that marijuana makes you mellow. Alcohol and tobacco is far more dangerous than marijuana. If I had to sit next to a drunk guy or a mellow guy, I’d pick the mellow guy."[1] Moore also said, "This measure will [provide] medicine to our terminally ill neighbors, generating revenue for city services, and protecting our neighborhoods."[3]

San Jose Inside editorialized in favor of Measure C, writing, "Palo Alto must decide if medical marijuana collectives can be allowed within city limits. Although many will look at San Jose and decry the lack of regulations and lawlessness, the truth is pot clubs have not killed the city. If anything, San Jose has proven to be a model to state and federal agencies. While people who need the medicine most can get access, the city brought in almost $4 million in tax revenue in its first year."[4]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure C: "Shall the Palo Alto Municipal Code be amended to permit three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Palo Alto in any commercial or industrial zone subject to prescribed zoning criteria?"[5]

Path to the ballot

Supporters of the initiative submitted 6,341 signatures to qualify it for the ballot as an initiated city charter amendment. 4,356 valid signatures were required.[2]

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