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SF grants cannabis businesses a break on fines for building code violations

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(Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee/TNS)

San Francisco supervisors voted to waive fines Tuesday for cannabis businesses like cultivation warehouses and delivery sites with building code violations found during inspections.

The businesses will have to fix the violations and pay for permits for the work, but they won’t have to pay fines on violations found by Department of Building Inspectors under the legislation introduced by Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is a medical marijuana patient and cannabis advocate.

Inspections are required before the businesses can obtain permits to operate legally under recreational cannabis regulations that took effect in San Francisco earlier this year. Voters approved Proposition 64 legalizing cannabis use statewide in 2016.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to approve the legislation, with Supervisor Katy Tang opposing the fee break. Tang said her opposition was a “principled matter” and objected to how The City was “helping to single out this industry.”

“I feel that if we think some fees are unfair that we should really take a hard look at how it is that we treat our other businesses or even private residents,” Tang said.

Sheehy said the waiver is intended to encourage the businesses to become legal.

He argued that “the punitive nature of the fines are frankly unfair to these businesses because there was no way for them to receive permits to do what they were doing because we didn’t provide a legal pathway.”

“I don’t see that there is an issue of fairness in this instance because there simply was no legal pathway for these businesses,” Sheehy said.

The waiver applies to the 283 cannabis businesses that registered with the Office of Cannabis to begin the legalization process between September 2017 and November 2017. The waiver sunsets after December 31, 2018

As of Feb. 23, 61 sites had been inspected, although multiple business types can operate at each site. Across the inspected sites, 34 included cultivation businesses, 33 were manufacturing, 34 were distribution, one was testing and 16 were delivery services, The San Francisco Examiner previously reported.
The fines assessed as of Feb. 23 had reached $16,244. Those fines will now be reimbursed and any future fines from the ongoing inspections waived.

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