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San Francisco Creates Centralized ‘Office of Cannabis’

July 20, 2017

Ahead of legal, adult-use sales kicking off next year, San Francisco has created a new office to serve as a hub for all things cannabis.

Approved at a meeting this week by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Office of Cannabis will handle license applications and fees for the city and county, field questions and complaints, interact with state-level regulators, and act as an information repository for the public. It’s set to open by the end of the year.

According San Francisco Chronicle reporter Rachel Swan, the ordinance creating the office passed on the same day as the municipal budget, which earmarks funds to get the office off the ground:

The city budget included $700,000 to fund three Office of Cannabis positions — a manager, a principal analyst and a management assistant — along with overhead, website development and public outreach. Mayor Ed Lee also set aside $665,227 this year for five new Department of Public Health employees who would help oversee permitting for medical cannabis dispensaries.

The city currently has 39 permitted dispensaries and 28 pending applications.

During discussion of the ordinance, several of the supervisors raised concerns about race and gender equity in the cannabis industry, noting that the Bay Area has struggled to diversify its tech industry. In response, according to the meeting minutes, Supervisor Ahsha Safai moved to add language meant to promote inclusivity.

“The Office shall ensure that the perspectives of communities that historically have been disproportionately impacted by federal drug enforcement policies are included and considered in all policy decisions,” Safai’s amendment says. It’s not yet clear what that will look like from a practical standpoint.

Following debate and amendments, supervisors passed the ordinance unanimously.

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Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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