San Francisco’s tolerance for marijuana dispensaries is being tested once again.
The Planning Commission today is set to vote on a business permit application for Krinze, a medical marijuana dispensary seeking to open at 2627 Taylor St. in Fisherman’s Wharf at a vacant commercial space previously occupied by a gift store.
If the permit is approved, the dispensary would likely open early next year, joining nearly 30 others in San Francisco.
The dispensary would be the first to open in the popular sightseeing destination and comes as The City is developing a task force that will propose industry regulations to prepare San Francisco for the expected statewide voter approval of legalizing recreational cannabis.
But some leaders in the tourist-friendly neighborhood of Fisherman’s Wharf — where some 10 million to 12 million visitors flock each year — are fuming at the prospect of a dispensary, arguing it’s not consistent with the district’s identity.
Longtime San Francisco resident Romwald Connolly signed a lease at the Taylor Street site last summer to open the dispensary. He estimates his business will serve more than 5,000 patients who live in the Fisherman’s Wharf, Russian Hill, North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods.
“We are a family-friendly business,” Connolly said. “We’re helping people that need this for medical purposes.”
Opponents, however, argue Fisherman’s Wharf doesn’t need an additional neighborhood servicing business like a dispensary.
Troy Campbell, executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, wrote in a letter to city leaders including the Planning Commission that the area is the “epicenter for tourism” in The City and would not mix well with a dispensary.
Campbell emphasized that property owners have turned away dispensaries in the Fisherman’s Wharf area for more than a decade. He added that for residents of nearby neighborhoods who may be too ill to travel to the nearest dispensary, at 1077 Post St., there are five other businesses that will deliver to The City’s northern neighborhoods.
“With that many operators delivering cannabis, a brick and mortar location at Fisherman’s Wharf is not needed,” Campbell wrote.
But Connolly, who previously sought to open a dispensary at Market and Castro streets before learning that the proposed site was not properly zoned for such a purpose, contends his dispensary would be located within blocks of other neighborhood businesses and serve customers who have told him they want a dispensary in the neighborhood.
“If you look where I’m located, I’m not in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf,” Connolly said. “I’ve found from people I’ve met is that they love the idea of having the MCD [medical cannabis dispensary] here on this side of The City.”
Krinze is the second dispensary to seek a permit from the commission in less than two months, further raising questions about where dispensaries are wanted in The City.
The Apothecarium, which was granted a permit from the commission Nov. 12 to open at 2414 Lombard St. in the Marina district, is also located outside the primary neighborhoods where dispensaries are located in The City, like the Tenderloin and South of Market.
Erich Pearson, founder of one of San Francisco’s largest dispensaries, SPARC, and who will serve on The City’s new task force to help regulate the industry once it is legalized, said the current allowable space — known as the Green Zone — where dispensaries can open amounts to less than 5 percent of in San Francisco.
“There’s a lot of demand for cannabis in San Francisco,” Pearson said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why dispensing cannabis in itself should be something a neighborhood is afraid of.”
Still, the Cow Hollow Neighborhood Association and Supervisor Mark Farrell last month voiced opposition to the Planning Commission allowing a dispensary on Lombard Street, citing the dispensary’s proximity to a transitional youth center. And while the commission did not object simply to a new dispensary, it was the location that raised the greatest concern.
“Even a good operation shouldn’t be in the wrong place,” Commissioner Michael Antonini, one of the two dissenting votes to approve that dispensary’s permit, said at the Nov. 12 meeting.