Medicinal pot club permit deadline extended

Having just a doctor’s note could soon allow San Francisco’s medicinal pot clubs to roll out the welcome mats for your patronage.

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. But to date, no clubs have obtained a permit, prompting members of the board to revisit the regulations and propose significant changes.

The Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee adopted on Thursday a number of amendments to the regulations, including a nine-month extension, until March 2008, for existing clubs to obtain permits.

The extension was in response to The City’s inability to process the permits in time to meet the deadline, due to the number of applicants as well as the cumbersome permitting process.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who authored the original pot club regulations, also proposed an amendment to allow patients to obtain marijuana if they have a verifiable doctor’s prescription. The regulation currently would require clubs to sell pot to only those patients with a state-issued medicinal marijuana identification card, which are costly and often time-consuming to obtain.

The amendments were widely praised by medicinal marijuana advocates. A few residents, however, were upset by the permit extension. Thea Selby, who lives on the 400 block of Haight Street, said there is “direct connection between these clubs and homicides” and faulted the proposed extension for allowing the “bad clubs” to remain open.

Mirkarimi said the regulations are already working given that there were 42 clubs at the time the regulations were adopted and now there are 31. The board committee will hold an Aug. 9 hearing on the amended regulations, when it is expected to send them to the full board for a vote.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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