San Francisco’s vision for the future of cannabis is expected to come into focus Tuesday with the introduction of legislation to the Board of Supervisors.
Those involved in the cannabis industry told the San Francisco Examiner on Monday they are waiting to see the details of the legislation that will show how The City plans to regulate the industry when recreational, or adult use, of cannabis goes into effect statewide in January.
Nicole Elliott, director of the newly created Office of Cannabis, is leading the effort.
The proposal will undergo a hearing Thursday before the Planning Commision and once again on Oct. 19. The earliest the full board may vote on the package is Nov. 14. It would cover the rules for various aspects of the industry, including cultivation, distribution and sales.
California voters legalized recreational marijuana last year with the passage of Proposition 64. Under the measure, the state will issue permits beginning January 2018. The state’s own Prop. 64 guidelines remain a work in progress.
There are about 34 brick-and-mortar medical cannabis dispensaries and 14 delivery services. The Board of Supervisors enacted a 45-day moratorium on additional medical cannabis dispensaries earlier this month to “pause” while The City figures out how to regulate the cannabis industry in the era of recreational use.
John Delaplane, who is a member of a group of medical cannabis dispensaries, the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance, said he is awaiting the details of the regulations but met with Elliott last week.
“What [Elliott] told me is this is draft legislation and is she is looking forward to the feedback of both the community and the industry,” he said
Delaplane said of particular interest is whether The City will relax the buffer around where dispensaries can open from the existing 1,000 feet from schools to 600 feet, which is the state regulation under Prop. 64. The hope there is to open up more areas of San Francisco to the cannabis industry and eliminate the clustering effect and so-called “green zone” — the limited areas where cannabis business can currently look to open.
Equity of the cannabis industry is also a concern. When the board approved the creation of the Office of Cannabis, they also required the director to issue an equity report by Nov. 1.
Delaplane said there is talk about creating an “equity fund” paid for by taxing the cannabis industry. Mayor Ed Lee announced last June a cannabis tax task force to consider a tax measure for a ballot next year.
Equity could take on many forms. Oakland, for example, has an equity program where a certain number of permits go toward so-called “equity” applicants, defined by such parameters as low-income and if they’ve had a cannabis-related conviction.
Terrance Alan, who chairs the Cannabis State Legislation Task Force, said he has yet to see The City’s proposal. Among his primary concerns is the rate at which The City will allow the cannabis industry to grow to foster a strong market place and boost tourism. He noted that Denver, which has legalized cannabis, has about 270 retail outlets.
That means there will be a lot of focus on how The City will propose allowing new businesses to open and how it will allow the existing dispensaries to also sell recreational cannabis.
“How they are going to do it is anybody’s guess,” Delaplane said.