SAN JOSE — Move over, chamber of commerce and labor unions. There could soon be a new political powerhouse in Silicon Valley — and it’s marijuana.
Sean Kali-rai and Victor Gomez, two former San Jose city employees who work as lobbyists, launched the “Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance” — a trade organization just for weed dispensaries, cultivators, distributors, delivery services and lab testers. The new association will include marijuana businesses in Santa Clara, San Benito and San Mateo counties.
Logo of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, a new trade organization for Bay Area marijuana businesses
But it’ll be more than just a business group for pot shops. The SVCA will have a political action committee to endorse and raise money for cannabis-friendly candidates and legislation. It’s the first of its kind in Silicon Valley.
“Cannabis businesses are being turned away from municipalities. They’re not being treated fairly like other businesses and someone needs to help them,” said Kali-rai, who worked for former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and now represents five of the largest San Jose dispensaries. “They deserve some respect and maybe this organization can help them get that.”
Sean Kali-rai is pictured in this file photo Victor Gomez, a former chief to Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, is pictured here
Despite a love-hate relationship with City Hall, the marijuana industry is a powerful one in San Jose. The city reaps an estimated $10.5 million in annual tax revenue from its 16 sanctioned medical marijuana facilities. The shops employ an estimated 800 people.
And although voters last spring approved Proposition 64 which legalized recreational marijuana in California, some Bay Area cities — including San Jose — have imposed bans on growing or selling recreational weed. Kali-rai said politicians are failing to honor the will of voters and that’s something he and