S.F. Supervisors Continue To Debate Marijuana Laws

October 17, 2005

Bay City News, CBS 5 - TV

In a move indicative of the divide over the city's proposed medical marijuana regulations, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday decided to continue discussion of the legislation to next week's meeting.

The ordinance, crafted by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, was recommended by the Planning Commission last month and was recently forwarded to the full board with a recommendation for approval.

But Tuesday's debate over the ordinance made clear that many divisive issues remain regarding the city's pot clubs.

"We have the sewer plants, the power plants, and now we will have the marijuana plants," said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who represents one of the city's poorer districts and was concerned that the current legislation would force many of the pot clubs to operate in San Francisco's southeastern area.

Maxwell said she was specifically worried that two 24-hour facilities allowed by the legislation would take up shop in the outlying areas of her district. In a series of amendments approved by the board, Maxwell succeeded in excluding District 10's industrial areas, which she said were too isolated and unpopulated, from consideration for the 24-hour dispensaries.

Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the city's South of Market neighborhood, said he was also hesitant to rush forward with legislation that targeted his and Maxwell's districts, which, according to Daly, are already the home to a disproportionate number of pot clubs. Daly was able to gain approval for an amendment to disallow the city's all-night pot clubs in certain residential enclaves in the South of Market area.

Other outspoken critics of the legislation were Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who voted against it in committee, and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier. Elsbernd narrowly failed to amend the legislation to cap the number of clubs after a six-month registration period. Alioto-Pier said she was concerned with the amount of marijuana each customer would be able to carry and the number of plants they would be able to grow in their own homes.

The current legislation allows customers with official cards to carry one pound of marijuana and plant up to 99 plants in their homes, and provides new and existing stores with an 18-month window to register with the city.

A citywide moratorium on the opening of any new pot clubs, originally instituted to give officials time to draft and adopt new regulations, will come to an end next month.

In other business, the board voted 9-1 against a resolution to approve a controversial waterfront development. The development, proposed by developer Mills Corporation, was supported only by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who said other supervisors were "setting a very high bar" for the waterfront project.

Other supervisors pointed to problems with the project's fiscal feasibility and a lack of a written contract between the developer and the YMCA, which was planning to build a recreational facility on the site.

(Bay City News)

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