Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2017 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Rachel Swan


People eager to start buying recreational marijuana from shops in San
Francisco when sales become legal throughout the state in January are
going to have to wait a little longer.

The city won't issue permits to sell recreational marijuana until it
passes new laws to regulate the industry and creates an equity program
to help low-income entrepreneurs, people of color, and former drug
offenders break into the market.

According to Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who introduced an ordinance with
proposed regulations at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, city
officials still have no idea what that program will look like or how
it will operate.

"Out of a 70-page ordinance, less than a page talks about how to make
(the industry) equitable," said Sheehy, who co-sponsored the cannabis
ordinance with Mayor Ed Lee. Sheehy said the laws are "far from
perfect, and further from final," and will require a lot more work.

In July, the board asked the city controller and the Office of
Cannabis to put together a report on equity in the cannabis industry
and submit it by Nov. 1. Although the supervisors all want to help
people who suffered disproportionately from tough drug laws of the
past, that won't be easy.

Oakland passed the state's first cannabis equity program in March - it
took more than a year to craft and prompted numerous fights among city
officials. The final version sets aside half the city's cannabis
permits for low-income residents who either have a past cannabis
conviction or live in a neighborhood with a high number of marijuana
arrests. The idea was to help entrepreneurs of color without
explicitly saying so, since California's constitution bars cities from
discriminating by race.

Earlier this month, the supervisors approved a 45-day moratorium on
new dispensary permits, saying the city needs time to create its
equity program. At the same time, the board raised other concerns for
the Office of Cannabis to consider, such as how to keep marijuana away
from minors and how to prevent dispensaries from clustering in
low-income neighborhoods.

The laws that Sheehy and Lee introduced Tuesday have some provisions
to address those issues, including a 600-foot buffer between a
cannabis shop and the nearest school, and a 300-foot distance between
cannabis businesses. Those laws won't apply to the city's 48 existing
cannabis businesses - 34 of which are brick-and-mortar shops - which
will be grandfathered in.

San Francisco will require all dispensaries to keep selling medicinal
marijuana, even if they obtain licenses to sell the recreational
product as well. New recreational sales outlets will also be required
to sell medical marijuana. Medicinal marijuana requires a prescription
and includes some products, such as tinctures and creams, that do not
produce a euphoric effect.

Sheehy admitted to concern about an excess of new planning and zoning
regulations in his and Lee's ordinances.

In addition to contemplating social equity issues, the city will have
to devise a new licensing system for its medical cannabis dispensaries
to bring them in line with current state laws that require all parts
of the supply chain to be regulated. Under the new system, nurseries
and manufacturers that previously operated underground will have to be
licensed by the city.

The city will allow its existing medical cannabis dispensaries to
apply for temporary 120-day permits on Jan. 1 so that they can stay
open while officials design the new structure.

Also on Tuesday, Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee asked the
controller's office to produce a report on the costs and benefits of
providing free or subsidized child care to low-income residents in San

Kim has asked the city attorney to draft a ballot measure for
universal affordable child care to coincide with a similar measure in
Alameda County that will also raise the pay of child care workers to
$15 an hour.
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