San Jose Trying to Shut Down Churches Selling Marijuana
San Jose is looking to crack down on two churches that are apparently selling marijuana, even though they do not have permits to do so. The two churches in question are Coachella Valley Church at 2142 The Alameda and Oklevueha Native American Church of South Bay at 265 Meridian Avenue. For the past few years, the city has allowed only 16 cannabis clubs to operate as long as they have permits and pay sales and business taxes. Councilwoman Devora “Dev” Davis stated,
It’s a priority for me, so I will be doing everything I can to shut down illegal pot clubs, regardless of whether they call themselves churches or not.
Coachella Valley Church opened in May and staff at the church, as well as members, had previously stated that sales and use of cannabis are exempt under the banner of religious freedom. Coachella director Donny Lords previously said the church’s nonprofit status means its marijuana sales are non-taxable. Oklevueha Native American Church of South Bay also claims the same right to sell non-taxed marijuana products to its members. Councilwoman Davis said the city can’t do anything about members smoking marijuana on private church property but churches’ nonprofit status don’t give them a loophole or exemption from paying the city’s marijuana business tax. Both churches could face fines of up to $50,000 for each day they are open, however, we will have to wait and see what will happen to both churches.