S.F. deluged with pot club permit requests
April 22, 2007
Joshua Sabatini, The Examiner
A deadline extension for medical pot clubs to obtain a permit to comply with a new city law is being considered as city departments struggle to process the permit requests, according to Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.
Under new legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors that went into effect January 2006, all of The City’s medicinal cannabis dispensaries have until the end of June to obtain a permit to legally operate under city law.
With about two months remaining, however, the Planning Commission has approved five permits, and those remain in a so-called provisional status, needing approvals from other city departments such as the Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Building and Inspection. There are 33 known clubs and 25, including the five approved, have filed to kick off the permitting process, according to an April letter to the Board of Supervisors from Green Cross club operator and medicinal marijuana advocate Kevin Reed.
“I don’t have much hope of many MCDs getting through the new comprehensive permit process before the city’s deadline of June 30,” Reed said in the letter.
After learning of the concerns from advocates of medicinal pot clubs, Alioto-Pier submitted a request to the relevant departments to ascertain how long it would take to process the permit applications.
“[MCD operators] all applied exactly when they were supposed to. And they have all been told essentially to wait,” Alioto-Pier said. “We’re running up against deadlines that we are not going to make because these MCDs are not being processed fast enough.”
Alioto-Pier said its unclear how long an extension would be considered. “I don’t think we’re sure yet. My guess it would be probably for another year,” she said.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who drafted the pot club regulations, acknowledged that “there may be a need for an extension, not because of the MCDs not doing their part, but because the processing of the permit applications is moving slower on The City’s part.”
In 1996, San Franciscans overwhelmingly favored state Proposition 215, which legalized the use and sale of marijuana to those suffering illness, infirmity and chronic pain. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The Board of Supervisors adopted regulations on the dispensaries after they began to crop up in The City unchecked. Residents complained that the clubs were clustered together, located near schools and other youth-oriented buildings in some cases and were attracting drug dealing and crime.
The departments are expected to report back to Alioto-Pier by Friday.