On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided to create a single entity to control all cannabis policies for companies the moment recreational weed becomes legal. Sponsored by Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, this ordinance legitimises the creation of an Office of Cannabis, and by year’s end, it should be operating in fully functional mode.
Marijuana Legalization in San Francisco
The ordinance asks the Office of Cannabis with setting up a system for marijuana license applications and resolving complaints. It will also act as the city’s sole representative for state regulators, as well as become a centralized source for public information. Furthermore, it extends the time for the Cannabis Legalization Task Force, which is due to disband in August. It will now survive at least another year.
Recreational weed in San Francisco has been a borderline legal industry for most of its existence, but now, the state is preparing to legalize adult use fully. After some initial disagreement, the board approved this ordinance unanimously. Board members note that the new law leaves some policy issues up for debate, but because many weed products resemble candy, they do want it sold in local stores.
Furthermore, many supervisors worry that the recreational industry would mirror the city’s tech sector. There are concerns about the overrepresentation of the white males. According to Supervisor Sandra Lee Fowler, the city failed at achieving diversity in the tech industry, and there are fears that those most victimized by U.S. federal drug policies would not have access to the cannabis market.
Recreational Weed in San Francisco
Addressing Fowler’s concerns, Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced an amendment to the ordinance. It requires the Office of Cannabis to prioritize communities most affected by U.S. drug laws in decisions of policy. On the same day of approving the “Office,” the board passed a city budget of $10 billion, after much haggling about how to divide the $46 million allocated to them in the mayor’s budget proposal.
The board approved the budget on its first reading. It will become final during the course of next week. It includes $700,000 for public outreach, website development, and overhead costs, along with funding to fill the positions of management assistant, principal analyst, and manager at the new Office of Cannabis. The Department of Public Health will receive $665,227 to employ five new licensing staff.
Legal Pot Sales in San Francisco
Legal pot sales will only begin next year, but the city is preparing for the market. The city already has 39 dispensaries with licenses to operate, with a further 28 applications underway. Despite federal attempts to override the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which protects the right of states to make their own marijuana laws, the city is forging ahead with marijuana legalization.
Other Implications of the Ordinance
In a number of separate provisions, the board agreed to new affordable-housing laws. Real estate developers will now need to assign 20 percent of their condominiums and 18 percent of their rentals to families from low-, moderate-, and middle-income backgrounds. However, changes to a 2014 law mandating the responsibility of beautifying utility boxes on sidewalks to companies met resistance.
The measure, brainchild of Supervisor Malia Cohen, would charge Internet and telecom service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, fees in lieu of decorating their boxes with murals or planting trees near them. However, several of her colleagues argued whether these fees were sufficient, $2,000 to bypass murals and $1,961 for unplanted trees, or whether they should be higher.
The measure now returns to the committee, who will recalculate the fees and base them on box size. Otherwise, the board passed Supervisor Norman Yee’s legislation unanimously. It eases application processes for child-care facilities, which would help keep families within the city. Child-care providers have been waiting long for such a measure, and have been calling officials incessantly about it.
The city will also gain another historic landmark: El Rey Theatre on Ocean Drive. Lastly, the months-long debacle of the owner move-in law finally reaches unanimous consent in the final vote. It establishes a proof-of-residency obligation on proprietors evicting tenants in order to move in themselves. It has been a source of conflict between the board’s moderate and progressive branches.