Step right up, aspiring San Francisco proprietors of dime bags, hash oils, pot brownies, and pre-rolled blunts! Your permit process for the recreational sale of schwag is falling into place, in advance of recreational marijuana sales becoming legal this January 1. The three-person Office of Cannabis proposed by Mayor Lee is officially a thing. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Office of Cannabis on Tuesday according to ABC 7, creating a so-called “one-stop shop” to handle cannabis business applications, serve as a conduit to state regulatory departments, and handle the potential (and inevitable) residents’ complaints. The go-ahead on the Office of Cannabis includes the rubber-stamping of the $700,000 that Mayor Lee had earmarked in his budget to fund this dope department.
That sum includes a phat $207,677-a-year Director of the Office of Cannabis position, the Examiner reports, with a total of $472,465 slated for City Hall cannabis bureaucrats. These three new bureaucrats would be authorized to “issue, deny, condition, suspend, or revoke cannabis-related permits in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” They’re also tasked with proposing permit fees and structures by November 1, a pretty tight timeline considering that recreational sales will become legal two months later on January 1, 2018.
According to the Chronicle, San Francisco currently has 39 permitted dispensaries, with 28 more pending dispensary applications in the pipeline.
The establishment of this office does not mean a marijuana sales free-for-all, and there are still some sticky issues with neighborhood concerns.
Supervisor Ahsha Safai’s District 11 has three dispensaries within a roughly one-mile mile stretch of Mission Street, earning the doobie-ous nickname “Dispensary Row”. Safai wants to cap the number of dispensaries in his district at just those three, a proposal to be considered at tomorrow night’s Planning Commission meeting. Planning will also discuss a moratorium on issuing new dispensary permits until all of San Francisco’s new recreational weed regulations are determined.
Safai does advocate for grandfathering in current medical dispensaries for recreational sales, and giving them top priority to sell pot over the counter under the new recreational rules.
“They have been vetted, they've gone through the process, they've been authorized by the Planning Department," Safai told ABC 7. "The operators have had their backgrounds vetted."
Despite the establishment of an Office of Cannabis, the recreational reefer regulatory framework is still about as clear as smoke just reading this article, you’ll notice that the “one stop shop” has more than one stop. The Supervisors are debating marijuana laws and the Planning Commission is also debating marijuana laws. On top of that, Tuesday’s Board vote also extended the life of the extremely redundant-sounding Cannabis Legalization Task Force (which was scheduled to be terminated in August, upon creation of this Office of Cannabis). That Task Force now continues to operate through the end of 2018, so we now have no fewer than four different ganja-governing bodies in the City and County of San Francisco whose debates, disagreements, and turf wars could render local marijuana policy quite hazy.