At Tuesday night’s board of supervisors meeting, supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to the eviction moratorium – potentially affecting tens of thousands of tenants – without discussion, a quick roll-call vote and a kick-start. hammer. But just before that, they spent nearly two and a half hours debating a cannabis dispensary that had already been approved by city hall.
ReLeaf Herbal Cooperative was only the third legal medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco when it opened in Ninth and Mission Streets in 2008. But they were on the wrong side of a no-fault eviction in 2019 and have searched for a replacement location ever since. Last June, the SF Planning Commission approved its move to a new location much further down Mission Street, a few hundred feet from the Daly City border.
That decision was appealed to the supervisory board after a nearby church argued the new location violated laws on proximity to schools and created too large a cluster of pottery shops in the neighborhood. The board disagreed and dismissed the appeal 8-3.
“I am grateful to be able to continue my story as a Latin American legacy cannabis operator in the neighborhood where I grew up,” owner Heidi Hanley told Hoodline after the vote. “A big thank you to the board of directors who recognized me for my merits.”
The church in question is the San Francisco Christian Center, which has argued that it is also considered a school and is only 300 feet from the proposed location of Releaf (5801 Mission in the graphic below) above). They point out that this violates a city ordinance that dispensaries cannot be within 600 feet of a school.
“The San Francisco Christian Center runs Our Kids First, an after-school program that is a district provider for San Francisco Unified, with signed contracts,” said Delia Fitzpatrick, church liaison officer. “We should be seen as an entity under the direction of the school district.”
But the planning department responded that “the planning code’s definition of school does not include facilities such as parks, preschools, or after-school programs.”
A number of public commentators have complained that the new dispensary will create a cluster of dispensaries in Crocker-Amazon, with three on a seven-block stretch of Mission Street.
Yet it is far from being the largest cluster in the city. “The nearest dispensary is 3,143 feet from our location, while the city only forces us 600 feet,” said Edward Brown, co-owner of Releaf.
Other concerns were just the hysteria of Reefer Madness. One commentator criticized: “I am sick and tired of cannabis. It ruins lives. It makes people violent, and it will cause a lot of homosexual behavior ”, before the operator of the meeting quickly cuts his call.
The board of directors finally confirmed the approval of the Planning Commission and dismissed the appeal, the only votes not coming from supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar, and district supervisor Ahsha Safai.
“When I ran for office, I heard from all different segments of the community,” Safai said before the vote. “The wide range of my community did not require any additional dispensaries to come to our neighborhood.”
ReLeaf Herbal Cooperative is one of the few surviving dispensaries to predate the existence of licensed dispensaries, and their 16-year journey has been a roller coaster.
There was no regulation of dispensaries when Releaf first opened in 2005, a relatively early era of medical marijuana. When the structured rules for the cannabis dispensary were passed in 2007, the store had to relocate from its original location to 21st and Folsom Streets because new laws made that location non-compliant.
They were, however, SF’s third legal and licensed dispensary when it reopened in Ninth and Mission Streets in 2008. The store was robbed to the tune of $ 600,000 in 2017 and suffered eviction in 2019. But thanks to An early 2020 legislation from supervisor Matt Haney, they are the only cannabis dispensary that has been authorized to transfer their cannabis retail license to a new address.
Now, Releaf will be the first new dispensary in District 11 of Safai since the arrival of recreational marijuana in 2018. Safai had succeeded in imposing a moratorium on new medical cannabis dispensaries in the district in 2017. But this moratorium went up in smoke when the recreational rules came into effect. Indeed, because the laws no longer recognized the distinction of “medical cannabis dispensary”.
“This is a historic victory for a pioneer woman in the exploitation of minority cannabis that has touched the lives of so many residents and visitors to San Francisco,” Brown told Hoodline.
There are still red tape and construction work ahead for Releaf’s new location, but they hope to open in early 2022.