Jew family's pot-club tenants probed

A medical pot club operating in a building owned by the family of suspended Supervisor Ed Jew is under review by the Planning Department to continue operating at its current Ingleside location. The Nor-Cal Herbal Relief Patients’ Cooperative is one of three medical pot clubs before the Planning Commission today.

In addition to being owned by the Jew family — which owns a number of properties throughout The City — another distinguishing characteristic of 1545 Ocean Ave. medical marijuana dispensary is that it is the only known club to grow the pot it sells.

“It’s the only one we know of that’s growing its own pot,” said Tara Sullivan-Lenane, a legislative aide with the Planning Department who follows the pot clubs through the permitting process.

Ed Jew, 47, faces federal criminal mail-fraud charges stemming from an alleged scheme to extort $80,000 in bribes from tapioca drink store owners seeking city planning permits. While the Jew family does not run the medical pot club, the attorney representing the club said it has always enjoyed the support of its landlords.

A medical pot club began operating at the site in November 2000, but it was raided in June 2005 by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency because it was suspected of having organized-crime ties. The operator continues to serve time in prison.The Nor-Cal Herbal Relief Patients Cooperative has been operating at the site since shortly thereafter, according to City Planner Elizabeth Watty.

Two years ago, the Board of Supervisors adopted groundbreaking legislation that established the first-ever regulations on medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

Under state law, medicinal marijuana is legal, but it remains illegal under federal law.

The regulations came as an increasing number of pot clubs set up shop in San Francisco, causing residents to complain that the clubs were operating too close to one another and attracting drug dealing and other criminal activity.

The regulations set a deadline of July 1 for existing pot clubs to obtain a city permit to operate legally or be forced to close down — while no new clubs could open. Club operators complained last spring that the cumbersome permitting process led to delays and were granted a new deadline of March 1, 2008.

To date, 16 of the 31 known pot clubs in The City have made it through the PlanningCommission hearings, which review location and the planned usage of the land, Sullivan-Lenane said.

For instance, if a pot club is within a 1,000-foot radius of an elementary, middle or high school, smoking on-site is not permitted, she said.

James Anthony, Nor-Cal’s attorney, said that despite an increase in media attention to the medical pot club, no other special attention was paid to the club because of its landlord.

“We don’t feel there’s been any effect whatsoever” on the process, Anthony said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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