SF medical pot clubs under scrutiny

September 03, 2005

Jo Stanley, San Francisco Examiner

Two of San Francisco's better-known medical pot clubs have been put on notice by The City as officials grapple with the burgeoning industry amidst growing neighborhood protests.

The Green Cross in the Mission must make major changes to regain its permit and the Mendo Healing clinic may not relocate to Potrero Avenue while The City's current moratorium is in effect, city planning officials have ruled.

In April, the Board of Supervisors imposed a 45-day moratorium — that has since been extended — as it began to sort out how to regulate The City's medical marijuana business that functions with little legal supervision. Three pieces of legislation are currently being floated detailing health and safety rules for 40-plus medicinal marijuana facilities, which include permit requirements. Although both of these clubs had taken out business permits, many others have not.

"I do, in a lot of ways, feel I'm being penalized while doing the right thing," said Kevin Reed, who operates the Green Cross club on 18th Street. He conceded his 250 to 300 clients a day require some managing to avoid inconveniencing neighbors, but said he's taken many steps to improve security and minimize traffic and other nuisances since his permit was suspended earlier this summer.

He said the long list of requirements laid out on Friday by City Zoning Administrator Lawrence Badiner seemed "drastic" — particularly eliminating the separate office he uses to oversee security cameras and shutting down at 6 p.m. on weekdays instead of 8 p.m.

Paula Medina, a bartender at The Liberties nearby, said she didn't expect opponents would be satisfied with anything less than closure, adding that in recent weeks improvements regarding neighborhood impact had been made. "People just want them gone," she said.

Dan Sider, of the Planning Department, said officials will be taking public comment on recommendations for Green Cross until Sept. 12 before sending pot club before the Board of Appeals for a hearing on Sept. 21.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who introduced one of three competing sets of regulations to protect the patients under voter-backed state Proposition 215 while minimizing problems in the vicinity, said he has questions about the latest actions, some of which appear to go beyond any of the proposed restrictions.

A representative of the Mendo Healing club said its South of Market outlet had closed this summer, but owner David Moore had maintained a delivery service since then and had not yet committed to opening a new business at 595 Potrero Ave.

E-mail: jstanley@examiner.com



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