S.F. Medical Marijuana Club Denied Permit

July 13, 2006

, Associated Press

The San Francisco Planning Commission has decided a medical marijuana dispensary doesn't belong near the shops, cable cars and postcard views of Alcatraz Island that make up Fisherman's Wharf. The commission voted 4-2 late Thursday to reject the application filed by the Green Cross, a pot club that wanted to open the dispensary.

Commissioner Michael J. Antonini said he voted against the permit because of concerns by local merchants, who feared the pot club would scare off tourists, as well as concerns by residents, who argued its presence would impair the quality of life in the neighborhood.

"The people who were against granting the permit were from the neighborhood where it would have been located, and those in favor of it were mainly coming from the outside and asking that it be imposed on that area," Antonini said.

The Green Cross was the first cannabis club to seek a permit under strict guidelines the city adopted in November to curb street crime around its roughly 30 dispensaries and prevent sales to non-patients.

This left-leaning city quickly became a hub for cannabis clubs after voters in 1996 made California the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. Voters in 10 other states have since enacted laws that allow dispensing pot to treat specific medical problems, although the federal government continues to outlaw marijuana.

San Francisco's clubs were largely unregulated before the new rules. Now the owners of dispensaries must submit to criminal and employment background checks, pay for a permit and business license, and are prohibited from operating near schools.

The Green Cross storefront had already been built - minus the marijuana. It is all sleek sophistication, from the black walls and piped-in jazz to the swarm of security cameras. Patients would have been required to show a government-issued medical marijuana card and a doctor's note before being presented with a selection of 55 different marijuana strains displayed in a glass counter with neon green lights.


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