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San Francisco Pot Club Ban Stems From Typo

Plus, DEA says it hasn't changed marijuana enforcement.

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A typo in San Francisco's medical cannabis code has given the city's planning department a way to impose a de facto ban on all dispensaries, officials realized last Friday. Under the current code, home daycare centers can count as schools — and there are so many home day cares in the city that most of the two dozen clubs in existence could effectively be zoned out, as San Francisco requires a mandatory 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and schools.

The San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force, however, has moved to fix the typo in its first meeting of 2011, requesting that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors amend the city's code. The current code expands the definition of schools by erroneously referring to another section of city law. The fix would delete that reference so that home day cares can no longer be considered schools.

But before the fix could be made, city planners used the typo to deny a dispensary permit in the Sunset district in December. San Francisco has about 25 permitted dispensaries, with several more wending their way through the planning department this year. The newest permitee is Shambala on Mission and 20th streets, and the allowable space for new dispensaries is fast-shrinking, said task force spokesperson Stephanie Tucker.

The task force also grappled with how to play catch-up, as medical cannabis retail sales taxes pour into neighboring city coffers and county-permitted cultivation fees save law enforcement jobs in parts north. Measures to clean up the city's pot supply, levy new taxes, and regulate out-of-town delivery companies immune to city rules are all on the task force's agenda in 2011, members said.

The thirteen-member group — a mix of club owners, growers, and patients — is largely ornamental and was tasked six months ago with making recommendations to the board of supervisors. But it's symbolic of an industry trying to regulate itself. The group's members expressed frustration about their impending recommendation deadline, the glacial pace of progress in their committees and working groups, and their inability to get responses from other parts of the city.

United Food and Commercial Worker's Union Local 5 Special Operations Director Dan Rush also made an appearance, looking for a spot on the city's cultivation committee. Rush also came to dispel notions about the size of the City of Oakland's proposed large-scale pot farms. Rush said they could be under 25,000 square-feet and the city is negotiating with the US Attorney to allow such permitted grows. In December, Oakland halted permitting of large-scale farms amid doubts about their legality under both state and federal law.

DEA: Pot Is Still Bad

The US Drug Enforcement Administration's "Position on Marijuana 2010," dated to July, didn't really start circulating until this month when activist Ed Rosenthal found his name in it. Last week, the Marijuana Policy Project told supporters that the DEA's position paper labels the drug law reform group Enemy Number-One. But that's just a little bit of the 54-page collection of anecdotal Reefer Madness. Thin on actual research, the little science the DEA cites is biased. The paper almost never discloses the number of patients in a study group, and can't cite much US research — ironically, because the DEA plays a role in ensuring such studies never get approved. Among the highlights:

- "While some people [think] the federal government has relaxed its policy on 'medical' marijuana, this in fact is not the case. Investigations and prosecutions of violations of state and federal law will continue."

- Pot smoking doesn't cause lung cancer, but can lead to bronchitis.

- Vaporizers can cut down on bronchitis — but pot can still make kids psycho.

- In California, 132 cities and 9 counties have banned cannabis clubs outright; 14 counties and 101 cities have moratoria against them; 36 cities and 9 counties have ordinances regulating them. (Out of 463 total cities and 58 counties.)

- As of May 2010: There are 119 researchers registered with the DEA to perform studies with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and non-tetrahydrocannabinol marijuana derivatives that exist in the plant.

- Oh, and some of the residents of Willits, Calif., really hate seasonal trimmers: "They sleep behind the Safeway and Rays and go to the bathroom there. They go to Our Daily Bread and eat the food poor people need."

Seeds & Stems

California NORML hosts its "Marijuana Reform: Next Steps for California" conference on Saturday, January 29, at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. Atop the speaker's list: State Senator Mark Leno on medical marijuana legislation in California; Assemblymember Tom Ammiano as well as Proposition 19 campaign spokesperson Dale Sky Jones. ... A historic round of regulations come to the Colorado's for-profit medical marijuana industry this year as the state prepares to take public comments on 99 pages of new regulations January 27 — a prelude to their adoption by summer. Proposed rules such as police-monitored, 24/7 Internet video streams of clubs; a semi-public marijuana patient database; and RFID-tagged plants will have a chilling effect on patients in the state, said rights group Americans for Safe Access. Colorado has raised $8 million in application fees from more than 2,300 pot clubs, kitchens, and farms seeking permits. Here's the ten most colorful applicants culled from the list: 10) We Bake Colorado LLC; 9) 4 Real Cannabis Supply LLC; 8) Baked At Mile High LLC; 7) Bud Med Health Centers LLC; 6) Chronic Wellness LLC; 5) Dr. Reefer.com INC; 4) Bakked LLC; 3) Jackass Organics LLC; 2) Smokin' Joes Medical Marijuana Dispensary LLC; and 1) Daddy Fat Sacks LLC.

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