Pubdate: Fri, 17 Feb 2012
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2012 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Chris Roberts


It's not easy to open a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco,
but it's very easy for patients to purchase their medicine from the
comfort of home - even if the service is illegal.

Delivery services operating in seeming violation of city law advertise
in print and on the Web, and operate in full knowledge of city
officials, who say their hands are tied.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has shut down five licensed
storefront dispensaries in The City since October, yet has not taken
action on unlicensed delivery services.

San Francisco law requires vendors distributing marijuana to 10 or
more people to obtain a medical cannabis dispensary license from the
Department of Public Health. State medical marijuana law provides for
nonprofit collectives or cooperatives to provide cannabis to people
with a doctor's recommendation, but does not specifically address
delivery services.

More than a year ago, Kevin Reed of The Green Cross -- which was then
San Francisco's lone licensed delivery-only dispensary -- asked city
officials to "level the playing field" between businesses such as his,
which must pay local and state taxes and $8,656 in dispensary permit
fees, according to The City's 2005 Medical Cannabis Act, and the
roughly 19 delivery services at the time that advertised here.

Unlicensed delivery vendors escape paying fees by being based or
claiming to be based outside city limits, according to Dr. Rajiv
Bhatia, director of occupational and environmental health at the
health department, which "did not anticipate" the legal wrinkle.

"These delivery establishments may be operating outside the bounds of
state law," Bhatia said in an e-mail, adding that "confirming the
nature and location of these operations require the use of
surveillance and investigational tools not available to the Department
of Public Health" and is the purview of law enforcement.

Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for Northern California, has shut down
five of San Francisco's 26 licensed storefront dispensaries since an
October news conference where she announced medical marijuana
providers violating state and local law would be prosecuted. Spokesman
Jack Gillund said Haag's office would not comment on the delivery services.

San Francisco currently has three licensed delivery-only dispensaries:
The Green Cross, Medithrive and Divinity Tree. The latter two went
delivery-only after the Justice Department shut down their storefront
locations in the Mission and Tenderloin neighborhoods,

Two delivery services operating without city permits in San Francisco
do have business licenses on file with the Office of the Treasurer and
Tax Collector, policy and legislative manager Greg Kato said - Foggy
Daze Delivery is registered as "Business Services, Except
Advertising," and Nature's Relief has a license for "Other Retail Stores."

Foggy Daze Delivery has a business address in San Jose, according to
records on file with the secretary of state.

Representatives for SF Green Delivery and Foggy Daze declined to
comment on their businesses.

Other municipalities in the Bay Area regulate delivery services based
outside their city limits. San Francisco's Medical Cannabis Task
Force, a City Hall body created to recommend policy to the Board of
Supervisors, included a recommendation to regulate out-of-town
delivery services in its annual report, issued in the fall. To date,
no legislative action has been taken.

Unlicensed delivery services "play in a legal gray area, and it isn't
fair," said Shona Gochenaur, a marijuana activist with low-income
patient network Axis of Love who sits on the task force. "This
loophole needs to be closed."

Paying the man

Medical marijuana collectives doing business in San Francisco are
required to pay taxes to both the state and The City.

$381,000 Local sales tax revenue in 2011 from city's 26

$8,656 Dispensary permit fee charged by SF

$4,019 Dispensary license and annual inspection fee in

$0 Cost to deliver medical marijuana in SF while based outside The

$0 Tax collected from such delivery services

Source: Ted Egan, city's chief economist

Door to door

Medical cannabis delivery services offering marijuana to patients in
San Francisco. None have operating permits from the Department of
Public Health.

Sweetleaf Collective www.sweetleaf

SF Green Delivery

Nature's Relief

Foggy Daze

California Green Medical

Kine 2B

The Union Collective

The Greener Side


Mr Purple Skunk 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.