Smoking cannabis. (Shutterstock)

Smoking cannabis. (Shutterstock)

Supes ban tobacco smoking in apartments but exempt cannabis

San Francisco banned smoking and vaping of tobacco in apartments Tuesday night, but only after exempting cannabis in response to a backlash from marijuana advocates.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-to-1 to approve legislation intended to protect renters from the harms of secondhand smoke in buildings with three or more units.

“The problem is smoke easily moves between units and there is no way to contain it,” said Board President Norman Yee, who introduced the proposal.

Yee had wanted to ban cannabis smoke as well, but couldn’t get the votes. The legislation prompted an outpouring of opposition from cannabis advocates.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman succeeded in amending the proposal in an 8-to-3 vote to provide a blanket exemption for cannabis smoke, before ultimately voting for the proposal.

He said that state law treats tobacco smokers and cannabis smokers differently and without the exemption there would be no legal place for people to smoke cannabis. There are handful of consumption lounges in The City but they are closed during the pandemic.

“Tobacco smokers unable to smoke in their apartment building can go out to the curb or find other public space,” Mandelman said. “There are other public spaces where they are allowed to smoke. Cannabis smokers don’t have that alternative and so I think it is important that we fully exempt cannabis from this legislation.”

Yee had previously amended the initial proposal to exempt those who use cannabis for medicinal reasons with proof of a doctor’s recommendation but opposed the full exemption along with Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Gordon Mar.

He said that while there are benefits from using cannabis “there are still health risks in exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke” and it would be “harmful for young kids and people that have respiration issues.”

Supervisor Dean Preston, the only nay vote, said the board should take more time to work out the issues raised by tenant groups, including concerns over how the ban would largely impact long-term tenants who signed leases before it became the standard for landlords to put no-smoking provisions into the agreements. His motion to postpone the vote, however, was defeated in a 5-to-6 vote.

The Department of Public Health is charged with enforcing the ban. Violators could face fines of up to $1,000 per day. A violation can not be grounds for an eviction under the terms of the legislation.

Dozens of other cities and counties in California already have in place similar no-smoking bans in apartments including San Mateo, Daly City, Berkeley and Santa Clara County.

The board will take a second and final vote on the proposal next week.

Bay Area NewscannabisPoliticssan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

An instructor at Sava Pool teaches children drowning prevention techniques. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Indoor city pools reopen for lap swimming and safety classes

Two of San Francisco’s indoor city pools reopened Tuesday, marking another step… Continue reading

A construction worker rides on top of materials being transported out of the Twin Peaks Tunnel as work continues at West Portal Station on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA’s poor track record on capital projects risks losing ‘public trust’

Supervisors say cost overruns and delays could jeapordize future ballot revenue measures

Most Read