Pot Club Ban In San Francisco Stems From Typo



A typo in San Francisco’s medical cannabis code gives the city's planning department a way to impose a de facto ban on all dispensaries, officials realized Friday.

Under the current code, home daycare centers can count as schools — and there are so many home daycares in the city that most of the 25 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 moved to fix the typo in its first meeting of 2011, requesting the Board of Supervisors amend the city’s code by one single letter.

City planners used the typo to deny a dispensary permit in the Sunset 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 St, and the allowable space for new dispensaries is fast-shrinking, task force spokesperson Stephanie Tucker said.

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 U.S. 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.