The most interesting marijuana dispensary poised to be added to the San Francisco weed-buying landscape is the proposed Apothecarium at Noriega Street and 32nd Avenue, interesting because it would be co-owned by former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, because the proposal was angrily shouted down by a mob of Sunset residents in March, and because of additional drama between the Apothecarium and a right-wing lobbying group called the Pacific Justice Institute.
It all came down to Thursday night’s Planning Commission meeting at which this Apothecarium location was considered for final approval. The San Francisco Examiner estimates that more 700 people waited to speak, many of them shouted, things got unruly, and after a marathon, packed-house debate, Planning approved the Apothecarium dispensary by a 5-1 vote at 11:40 p.m., according to Hoodline.
Crowd is getting unruly! Accusations of pushing. Line jumping. One escorted out. pic.twitter.com/j4oKV1CUW8— Lisa Amin Gulezian (@LisaAminABC7) July 14, 2017
This Planning Commission meeting did not get quite as unruly as the March community meeting at which Quan’s husband Dr. Floyd Yuen was hollered down and not allowed to speak. But as seen above, there was still significant yelling and mayhem by neighborhood opponents. According to a later tweet from ABC 7’s Lisa Amin Gulezian, the proceedings devolved even further when “someone claim[ed] to have fainted” but “others say it was all a stunt.”
This particular dispensary says they will employ Cantonese-speaking staff and create an understanding of proper medical cannabis use among the neighborhood’s Chinese-American community. Quan was likely brought in because of her Chinese-American heritage and history of passing cannabis legislation in Oakland, though her husband (a gerontologist) would be the more active co-owner.
Quan seems to admit as much. "This is my husband's project," Quan told Hoodline, "but my Chinese is better than his."
What rankles residents and created additional pause for the Planning Commission was whether this dispensary would be automatically grandfathered in for recreational cannabis sales when all adult sales become legal January 1, 2018. “It’s not known if it will actually come to [the Planning commission] yet,” commission director John Rahaim said at the meeting. “It would be very unlikely that it would just be automatic.”
There are currently no marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood, and many residents want to keep it that way because of the children! “They will see it, smell it and hear it," one woman said at the meeting, per Hoodline. "You will plant a marijuana seed in their heart."
Personally, I would love to see “Plant a marijuana seed in their heart" become the official motto of all dispensaries that face any community opposition. But for those who would love to see the Apothecarium denied its permits, there is still hope. An appeal of Planning’s decision could go before the Board of Supervisors, where the proposal could still be voted down.