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City Hall puts moratorium on cannabis dispensaries

Buzzkill 45-day ban set to take shape

A “Releaf” dispensary sign on the side of a SoMa hotel. Photo by Victor Grigas

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 on Tuesday for a 45-day moratorium on new cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco, citing the need for more regulation.

The temporary ban, originally proposed by District 10 representative Malia Cohen, targets medical marijuana dispensaries. But it’s rooted in concerns about recreational sales that will become legal when Proposition 64 kicks in next year.

The ordinance passed notes:

Since the passage of Proposition 64, there has been an increase in the number and rate of applications for MCD [medical cannabis dispensary] permits in San Francisco.

This increase is driven in part by the desire of prospective MCD operators to establish MCDs under the City’s current MCD controls, in order to convert those MCDs to non-medical cannabis retail establishments once state and local licenses for such businesses are available.

[...] The proliferation of MCDs in the absence of such comprehensive control may ultimately result in cannabis retail establishments that create negative land use and other impacts, including impacts on neighborhood character, traffic, and safety, and that are inconsistent with City zoning.

         By ChameleonsEye

Although it’s only 45 days, the board may renew it after it expires.

Supe. Cohen was quick to comment at Tuesday’s meeting that she was “[n]ot an anti-cannabis person” and didn’t want to quash sales. Instead she characterized the vote as a move to “pause and reevaluate” new businesses.

The city’s annual dispensary report for 2016 identified 36 legal sites for medical sale. Cohen said on Tuesday there were 35, while the San Francisco Chronicle counted 38 in August. Whatever the count, cannabis dispensaries are mostly clustered in but a few neighborhoods, mainly in SoMa.

The city’s 2016 report estimated that the existing sites service up to 20,000 customers. The moratorium won’t affect new proposed sites with hearing dates already scheduled.

The two no votes on Tuesday’s order were District 8’s Jeff Sheehy and District 2’s Mark Farrell. Sheehy said he doesn’t like singling out businesses that sell for medical use as a mean of curtailing other sorts of sales, saying that the legislation “targeted the wrong people.”