S.F. su­pes de­lay de­ci­sion on pot rules

Recre­ational sales al­most cer­tainly won’t start Jan. 1

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By Rachel Swan

San Fran­cisco’s Board of Su­per­vi­sors de­cided Tues­day to kick its big cannabis de­bate down the road two weeks, mak­ing it al­most cer­tain that recre­ational sales won’t start in the city on Jan. 1.

The point of con­tention was a pro­posal by Su­per­vi­sors Aaron Pe­skin and Jeff Sheehy to grant tem­po­rary per­mits to ex­ist­ing med­i­cal cannabis dis­pen­saries, cul­ti­va­tors and man­u­fac­tur­ers, so that they could en­ter the recre­ational mar­ket in Jan­uary.

Su­per­vi­sor Malia Cohen balked at the idea, say­ing it would pro­vide a boost to peo­ple who al­ready own cannabis busi­nesses, leav­ing be­hind the low-in­come res­i­dents, peo­ple of color and vic­tims of the coun­try’s war on drugs that the su­per­vi­sors say they want to help.

“It would be re­spon­si­ble for us to con­tinue this and en­sure that the fi­nal leg­is­la­tion that is passed is thought­ful, cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive, and al­lows us to be up and run­ning by the first week of Jan­uary,” Cohen said, sug­gest­ing that her col­leagues could

push the recre­ational start date to Jan. 5.

This month Cohen in­tro­duced an eq­uity per­mit pro­gram that would pri­or­i­tize per­mits for peo­ple with prior drug ar­rests and con­vic­tions, along with peo­ple dis­placed from their San Fran­cisco homes and res­i­dents who earn 80 per­cent, or less, of the city’s me­dian in­come. The pro­gram seems to have back­ing from the rest of the board.

Sheehy lamented that the de­lay could “take what we al­ready have and turn it into chaos,” but he ul­ti­mately sup­ported the con­tin­u­ance.

The board’s cannabis de­bate has reached a stand­still, with sev­eral su­per­vi­sors ask­ing for caps or out­right bans on the num­ber of stores in their neigh­bor­hoods, buf­fers around schools and child care cen­ters, and other zon­ing rules that, when added to­gether, would pre­vent new busi­nesses from open­ing in most of San Fran­cisco.

Cohen, along with for­mer Su­per­vi­sors Scott Wiener and David Cam­pos, have raised con­cerns that if the city is­sued per­mits to its ex­ist­ing 46 cannabis busi­nesses and then tight­ened zon­ing rules, the mar­ket would be closed to new shops.

Al­though the board has held six com­mit­tee meet­ings over the past two weeks to dis­cuss those is­sues, the su­per­vi­sors still ap­pear to be stuck. Mark Far­rell said at the be­gin­ning of the meet­ing that con­tin­u­ing the item just be­fore a long hol­i­day break might cause it to drag on for months.

“If you prick a bal­loon, the air de­flates,” he said. “We’re not go­ing to pick up this topic for a long time.”

Nonethe­less, he and eight other su­per­vi­sors voted to sup­port the de­lay. Cohen left be­fore the vote, and Pe­skin was the only su­per­vi­sor who dis­sented.

Be­fore vot­ing to con­tinue the de­bate, the board de­feated an amend­ment by Su­per­vi­sor Ahsha Safai to re­quire dis­pen­saries to de­velop a “good neigh­bor pol­icy” with help from po­lice cap­tains and dis­trict su­per­vi­sors.

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