San Francisco is expected to ban new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in one of The City’s 11 supervisorial districts today.
Supervisor Ahsha Safai appears to have enough votes to pass legislation that wouldn’t allow more than three medical marijuana dispensaries in District 11, the number operating there now.
The proposal comes as legalized sales of adult marijuana goes into effect statewide Jan. 1.
The Small Business Commission unanimously opposed the proposal and the Planning Commission advised a citywide interim moratorium on issuing dispensary permits, instead of Safai’s piecemeal approach, until the adult sale regulations are worked out.
But on Monday, the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee, on which supervisors Mark Farrell, Katy Tang and Aaron Peskin sit, unanimously approved the legislation introduced by Safai, the District 11 supervisor.
Meanwhile, multiple sources at City Hall said Supervisor Malia Cohen planned to introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors meeting today that would enact the citywide moratorium.
“At this time, I cannot confirm or deny the rumor,” Cohen said in a text message on Monday afternoon.
The Planning Department is currently reviewing 16 medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) applications, according to a July 20 city planning staff report. There are 46 MCDs either in operation or with land use approvals in San Francisco. It is expected The City will allow MCDs to also sell recreational marijuana through some type of permit review process.
The committee voted to send Safai’s legislation for a board vote today, the last meeting before the board’s summer legislative recess. The board will begin meeting again on Sept. 5.
Peskin said he viewed the proposal as an interim measure for District 11 and noted that in six months they may “fine tune” it as part of overall regulations for adult use.
Tang said she would defer to Safai’s judgement on what was best for the district he represents.
Safai said that District 11 had enough MCDs, with three on Mission Street in the Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhood, and two more just over the district border on Ocean Avenue in District 7. Other supervisorial districts have as many as 15.
But Safai argued that his district is unique, with single-family homes near the commercial corridor, and he is also working with city agencies to draft an economic strategy for the corridor.
“Having a proliferation of MCDs does not fit into that overall economic development strategy,” Safai said.
But Regina Dick-Endrizzi, head of the Office of the Small Business, said that Safai’s proposal would actually protect the existing dispensaries residents are complaining about by preventing competition.
Mark Dwight, chair of the Small Business Commission, said that while Safai may have some trouble operators in his district, he shouldn’t penalize the whole industry. Instead Safai should “allow these legitimate businesses to exist throughout The City.”
“This is a large district that is effectively underserved by the number of MCDs that it currently has,” Dwight said.
David Hooper, a District 11 resident who is the leader of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association, said the cap was necessary to help the community in its tireless fight against MCD applicants.
“Merchants in and near the 5200 block of Mission Street are the ones that are grievously affected by the irresponsible MCDs,” Hooper said. “The way to get rid of them is almost impossible. To say competition is going to do that is naive.”
The City approved last week establishing an Office of Cannabis, whose director, expected to be hired next month, will receive more than $200,000 in salary and benefits. The director will be in charge of issuing final operational permits.
The City is expected to propose legislation regulating cannabis in the new era of legalized recreational sales in September. Politics