As legalization nears, SF readies pot rules

San Francisco city officials are preparing to approve new regulations and permit requirements for the budding marijuana industry as the state moves toward fully legalizing adult cannabis use, but the plans remain very much a work in progress.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy Tuesday introduced legislation spelling out proposed regulations and permitting requirements for cannabis businesses including recreational retailers, medical dispensaries and growers.

The city is moving to establish the regulations following the approval last year of Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use in California. The regulations need to be in place before Jan. 1 when full legalization takes effect, officials have said.

The proposed legislation covers permits for non-retail uses such as cultivation, extends permits for existing medical cannabis dispensaries and provides clear and detailed guidance to those in the industry.

However Sheehy, an advocate for medical marijuana, cautioned that the proposed legislation, developed by the mayor’s office and city staff members, “needs more work” and would require an extensive public process before it could be approved.

Among other issues, it lacks provisions for insuring racial and economic equity in the cannabis industry, a key concern for supervisors.

Sheehy said:

“The most important thing I heard from colleagues is the need for equity and this legislation as introduced falls short. … While this is all being worked out permanent license are being delayed, so this cannot be enacted into law as introduced.”

Other issues that will need to be addressed include labor protections, measures to prevent minors from accessing cannabis and the potential for over-regulating the market to the extent that it drives people into the black market, Sheehy said.

The legislation’s introduction follows a 9-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors earlier this month to place a 45-day moratorium on the approval of most new medical cannabis dispensaries while regulations are under development.

The Planning Commission, which currently plays a key role in the approval of permits for medical cannabis dispensaries, on Thursday will review the proposed new cannabis permitting regulations.

Cohen said she planned to host a cannabis education forum at the Bayview Opera House on Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. The event will include information on the coming changes in marijuana laws as well as job opportunities within the industry, public safety and steps that those formerly incarcerated for marijuana possession can take to get their records expunged.