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Recreational Marijuana Rules Rile Cannabis-Friendly San Francisco

November 14, 2017
(bluejayphoto/iStock)
Update, 4:05 p.m.

San Francisco cannabis lovers will have to wait a little longer for supervisors to establish regulations over where to allow new recreational marijuana stores in January.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to hold off on a temporary measure that would allow existing stores to sell recreational cannabis starting Jan. 1 and give the board more time to hash out rules.

The board needed to vote on the temporary cannabis measure Tuesday to be ready for sales on Jan. 1.

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Supervisors in this cannabis-friendly city are having a difficult time agreeing to where to allow new recreational stores as critics, many of them older Chinese immigrants, have spoken up against marijuana use around children.

The board will take up cannabis regulations in two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Famously pro-cannabis San Francisco, where the 4/20 marijuana holiday is celebrated with a group smoke-out on Hippie Hill, is having a surprisingly difficult time establishing regulations for the broad legal market coming to California in January.

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Writing local rules in the cannabis-friendly city has taken a contentious turn as critics, many of them older Chinese immigrants who oppose marijuana use, try to restrict where products can be sold.

“Cannabis is effectively legal now and the sky hasn't fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false.”
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy

Divided San Francisco supervisors are scheduled to take up the issue at a board meeting Tuesday, where they may vote on a stop-gap measure to allow the sale of recreational cannabis through existing medical marijuana outlets on Jan. 1 as they continue to figure out where to allow new stores.

The possibility of overly strict regulations has businesses fretting over access and some San Franciscans wondering what happened to the counter-culture, anti-Prohibition city they know and love. The smell of cannabis being smoked is not uncommon in certain neighborhoods and parks.

“Let’s be honest: Cannabis is effectively legal now and the sky hasn’t fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who uses medical marijuana to mitigate pain from older HIV medications.

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He and others are calling for keeping recreational retail stores 600 feet (183 meters) away from schools, comparable to the radius required of stores that sell liquor or tobacco. Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to be at least 1,000 feet (305 meters) away from schools and recreation centers that primarily serve minors.

But some Chinese-American organizations have pushed back, calling for an outright prohibition on retail stores in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They want future retail stores to be at least 1,500 feet (460 meters) away from schools, child-care centers and any other place minors gather. Supervisors are considering a 1,000-foot (305-meter) buffer that cannabis advocates say is too restrictive for a city as compact as San Francisco.

“We're not just legislators. We are group therapists for 850,000 people.”
Supervisor Aaron Peskin

Ellen Lee, family social worker at the nonprofit San Francisco Community Empowerment Center, which has helped lead the protests, said most of the people opposed to recreational cannabis are elderly and speak little to no English. She said children are impressionable and must be protected from a drug that remains illegal under federal law, and she is frustrated by elected officials.

“We have been meeting with them and talking to them,” she said, “but they are not listening.”

Chinese-Americans are an integral part of San Francisco’s history and they carry political clout in a city where one-third of its 850,000 residents are Asian and Chinese-Americans are the largest Asian sub-group. The mayor is Chinese-American, as are other elected officials in the city.

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Supervisor Aaron Peskin said Monday he has a holdover measure that will allow 46 existing medical marijuana facilities to sell to adults while the board takes more time to hash out zoning regulations. He said that would allow people plenty of places to buy cannabis come Jan. 1.

Peskin, who represents the Chinatown district, said he expects the board will come up with a resolution that satisfies most people in the diverse city.

“We’re not just legislators. We are group therapists for 850,000 people and understanding what their concerns are, whether we agree or disagree, and addressing them respectfully is very important in the legislative process,” he said.

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  • Mike_Scarborough

    I didn’t realize being a sanctuary city also meant being a sanctuary from reason.

    • thailarry

      You statement about “reason” seems to have no logic or reason. Try and be more clear if you want to get an idea across even if it is a goofy one.

  • 360dunk

    How rude of these Chinese-American immigrants. When you come to our country to live and enjoy our prosperity, you shouldn’t try to change our laws. How would they feel if I went to live in China, didn’t bother learning the language, and attempted to make policy changes?

    Furthermore, it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach and watch their children. A good parent won’t allow a child access to alcohol, marijuana, bottles of poison, or cigarettes. A good parent makes sure the child won’t play unsupervised near a swimming pool. Stop trying to hide behind children in order to promote your anti-cannabis platform…..show some responsibility as a parent. The cannabis industry should not be determined by some potential problems that may or may not occur. That’s not fair to the overwhelming majority who play by the rules.

    • C.S.

      I am with you on this one.
      I am also an immigrant, and in being one, I say, the least I can do is know the language. It pains me how some people, immigrants or not, are so entitled and don’t even work to be entitled to their entitlement (ha!).
      It’s just common courtesy… this country has been kind to take me in and let me make it a home, the least I can do is learn the language. Doesn’t mean I have to give up my own culture or not speak my mother language while I am here, it’s just showing a little courtesy to the place who took you in.
      So many things should change with so many OTHER laws, but people are too worried taking care of other people’s lives.
      There are cigarets for sale on gas station convenience stores…. along with all the candy and crap children love. Are children not allowed in those? Are those not allowed a few feet from schools and bla bla?
      I could go on and on here…. but you get my point, and feels good to share it with someone that has the same view.

      • 360dunk

        You represent everything that’s right about immigration, C.S…….glad you moved here.

  • Excuse me

    What does anyone really accomplish by this attempt to put the retail outlets in remote-from-all-children locations? Up in Washington, the outlets are required to have a person stand by the door and look at ID to affirm age–of EVERY PERSON WHO ENTERS. Senior citizen? Must.show.ID.

    So the children will not have access to the stores. Washington State stats showed that use of Cannabis in teens dropped after legalization. If residents in Chinatown or elsewhere in the city think their children are not casually exposed to Cannabis smokers on the streets right now, they are deluding themselves. The law should certainly be no different than alcohol outlets.

  • alacrity

    I think it bottom-lines at responsible use. I grew up in Sf, and spent decades working there. Currently, there are too many bad-actors just flaunting their use publicly, and generally being twunts. There really is no excuse for sparking up on the street and trying to get attention- it’s f’n rude. These guys are the reasons why cannabis users get a bad rep, and the neighborhoods get cranky about a dispensary or retail shop near them. I really can’t blame ’em- the property values plummet.

    Don’t be a dick, and the world will be a better place.

  • Alaine

    They forgot about the opium dens? Or maybe that’s the frear.

  • Alaine

    How about an education program for the non-English speakers and those who don’t know about cannabis and its wonderful properties that includes no lethal dose.

  • MV 1967

    Cannabis should not regulated any more than tomatoes.