Pubdate: Wed, 09 Sep 2015
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2015 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Michael Minna, Tadich Grill, Charles Schwab, and Citibank have a new 
neighbor in the Financial district.

They're all the rage: tech startup hubs, new media hubs, popup 
restaurant hubs - shared workspaces where multiple small businesses 
incubate and enjoy network effects and efficiencies. Now that concept 
is coming to cannabis.

The City of San Francisco surged back into the avant-garde of medical 
marijuana policy with the approval last week of the licensed, shared 
workspace for up to sixteen medical cannabis delivery businesses. The 
San Francisco Planning Commission formally greenlighted the world's 
first weed delivery hub license last Thursday, allowing a fleet of 
cannabis courier companies to occupy suites on the second floor of 
214 California Street.

The approval was four years in the making, said San Francisco lawyer 
Brendan Hallinan, who represents the landlord of 214 California. The 
city approved a dispensary there in 2013, but disability access 
issues stymied the opening. So the dispensary moved downstairs. "The 
client started plans to do a shared workspace [on the second floor] 
and someone said, 'What about a cannabis shared workspace?' We were 
just brainstorming."

The hub's tenants could share equipment and best practices and 
realize the efficiencies that come with proximity. "The landlord is 
very forward-thinking," Hallinan said. "Everyone else is doing 
[shared workspaces]. It makes sense. It's the San Francisco way and 
it's consistent with all the other startups. [Cannabis] is a new 
industry, just like tech."

Before last week's vote, San Francisco licensed about two dozen 
brick-and-mortar dispensaries, while twice as many unregulated 
courier collectives served the city. "You don't want to have a bunch 
of illegal businesses in there," Hallinan said of 214 California. "So 
we looked into the possibility of licensing offsite delivery, and the 
whole plan came together."

A shared workspace for medical cannabis delivery businesses regulates 
otherwise unregulated actors, and furthers safe access - via delivery 
- - in the many neighborhoods opposed to physical shops. NIMBYs block 
dispensaries in the Sunset, North Beach, and the Inner Richmond districts.

Eleven neighborhood groups supported the new courier hub. One 
neighborhood group and a few neighbors opposed it. Neighbors in the 
area include tony tenants such as restaurants Michael Minna and 
Tadich Grill, as well as Charles Schwab and Citibank.

Getting a permit for a delivery-only dispensary used to involve the 
same process as for a brick-and-mortar. "It's a lot of work and a lot 
of money and a lot of time," Hallinan said. But now, the FiDi weed 
hub's tenants will jump through just one major hoop - a Public Health 
Department licensing for each employee, which includes a background 
check. That takes just 30 45 days.

Hub tenants will also get ahead of pending state-level medical 
cannabis regulations that threaten to forbid all pot couriers not 
tied to a physical, licensed property. With a city permit in hand, 
the race is on to build out and rent out the second floor of 214 
California. Five spots in the hub are spoken for. "I've got thirty 
phone calls to make," Hallinan said. "There's a lot of demand.

"It's really cool. I can't believe it came together as well as it 
did," he continued. "The reason it worked is because San Francisco 
has such commonsense policies on medical cannabis. So the planning 
commission wasn't looking at it from a position of 'Dispensaries are 
bad and are going to corrupt the neighborhood,'" he said.

And lord knows the FiDi could use some chilling out.

Regulations Update

The California Legislature has until Friday, September 11 to pass a 
bill regulating medical pot. Two competing bills were gutted and 
turned into shells for a compromise bill based off of new-but-similar 
language that's coming from the Governor's Office. Legislators have 
been meeting on nights and weekends to hash out a compromise, but 
serious divisions remain between the Senate and the Assembly, law 
enforcement and industry, and even within the industry itself.

If something passes, it will be a last-minute, backroom deal for one 
of California's biggest industries. Many legal details may also be 
punted to future regulators, in order to pass a bill this week. Stay 
tuned on the Legalization Nation blog for updates.

Author Showcase

And lastly, Legalization Nation wants all its readers to come down to 
1741 San Pablo Avenue in Uptown Oakland on Thursday, September 17 for 
our Cannabis Author Showcase IV at The Rock Steady bar starting at 6 
p.m. Our author interview panel is: Stephen DeAngelo (The Cannabis 
Manifesto, 2015); Ellen Komp (Tokin' Women, 2015); Michael Backes 
(Cannabis Pharmacy, 2014); and Cheri Sicard (Mary Jane, 2015). Expect 
an erudite night of interviews, exclusive book sales, signings, food, 
drink, and community. Admission is free with RSVP through signing up 
for our podcast at
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom