San Francisco’s pot clubs feeling threatened

A group of advocates for medicinal marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco are worried about what they say is at least one venture capitalist eyeing the medical pot market here in The City with designs to purchase buildings that house the existing dispensaries under a scheme to jack their rents or push them out and take over the dispensary operation themselves.

If they are forced out, the new operators do not have to go through the usual permitting process, which requires extensive public hearings, and the selling of medical marijuana can go on just as before, but now under new ownership.

The “loophole,” advocates say, opens the door for less compassionate operators and does not give the neighborhood a chance to have a say on the operation.

There are 26 permitted locations in San Francisco.

The strategy, they say, comes as Los Angeles moves to shutter clubs there, an effort being led by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Supervisor Chris Daly will introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling attention to this trend. “DA Cooley’s war on dispensaries in Los Angeles is creating a rush by that City’s dispensary owners who are looking North to purchase buildings occupied by San Francisco collective or cooperative operators to force them out,” the resolution says.

The resolution calls on city departments and elected officials to “uphold and strengthen current medical cannabis laws and regulatory procedures that ensures quality care of patients, protects residents and provides a true benefit to the community and discourages business practices that threaten local permitted medical cannabis dispensary operators.”

To control or prohibit this kind of behavior would require legislation to change the law. As of now, no such proposal has surfaced.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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