SF approves ban on new dispensaries in District 11; citywide moratorium still looms

San Francisco approved on Tuesday a ban on new medical cannabis dispensaries in one of The City’s 11 supervisor districts but may decide to enact a citywide moratorium on all new permits.

Supervisor Malia Cohen introduced legislation that would enact a moratorium to “take a pause and evaluate the best way to regulate cannabis in San Francisco.”

The proposal comes as The City is working to establish regulations for legalized adult sales of recreational marijuana, which begins January 2018.

Cohen said there are outstanding questions, such as if and how medical dispensaries will sell recreational marijuana come next year. It would take nine votes of the 11-member board to approve.

The moratorium was recommended by the Planning Commission when reviewing Supervisor Ahsha Safai’s proposal to allow no more than three medical cannabis dispensaries — the amount there now — in District 11, which he represents.

The board voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve Safai’s legislation. Supervisors Jane Kim and Sandra Fewer opposed it, arguing a piecemeal approach was misguided.

Safai has said his proposal grew out of his campaign for office last year, when residents were clearly united in not wanting to see more dispensaries. He also said he’s working on an economic strategy for the Mission corridor, where the three current dispensaries are located, to bring other types of businesses to the area.

The Planning Department is currently reviewing 16 medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) applications, according to a July 20 city planning staff report. There are 46 MCDs either in operation or with land use approvals, including delivery services.

Tuesday was the full board’s last meeting before summer legislative recess before returning in September.

Joshua Sabatini
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Joshua Sabatini

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