The San Francisco Department of Public Health, which licenses and polices the city’s 26 storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, announced on Friday that it will ask every dispensary to provide a list — with names and addresses — of every grower with which it does business.
The result would be a disaster for the city’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, according to Kevin Reed, president of the Green Cross medicinal cannabis delivery service, reports Chris Roberts at the S.F. Weekly.
“It’s unacceptable,” Reed told the Weekly. “It would be a disaster.”
The list of grower names and addresses is needed, claimed Rajiv Bhatia, head of DPH’s Occupational & Environmental Health, for safety and legality reasons.
“DPH is trying to ensure that permitted MCDs [medical cannabis dispensaries]comply with all state and local laws,” Bhatia said. “By ensuring this, the industry will be best situated to be protected from code enforcement and criminal prosecution.”
|Photo: Luke Thomas/The Green Cross|
|Kevin Reed: “It’s unacceptable. It would be a disaster.”|
But that isn’t sitting so well with the city’s medical marijuana growers, who have noticed the increasingly threatening nature of letters of U.S. Attorneys in medical marijuana states. All that saber-rattling by drug warriors within the Obama Administration doesn’t exactly make turning over a list of names and addresses seem like the best idea ever.
According to Reed, the list would push legal operators underground while doing nothing to change the habits of illegal cultivators.
And if the list were publicly available, it could be used as a “shopping list” by rip-off artists, thieves, and, of course, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), since the feds still consider cannabis illegal, even for medicinal purposes, regardless of state laws.
“There’s no way anyone on the city or state level can provide us protection from the federal government,” Reed said.
Theories regarding why the S.F. Health Department is suddenly concerned about whether dispensaries comply with state and local law — more than a decade after the City By The Bay passed its Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary Act — include taxes, police, and in industry takeover, reports Roberts at the Weekly.
Reed said he believes the DPH wants a list of all the city’s legal growers so that it can eventually tax them. But the city also wants addresses of grow sites located outside San Francisco.
Some growers believe the DPH is being strong-armed by the S.F. Police Department.
And then there are the conspiracy theorists who say the stricter regulations would make it easier for a few mega-operators to take over the medical marijuana industry.
“I understand DPH’s frustration of being thrust into the middle of this confusing and contradictory system, but there is way too much risk to force full transparency in cultivation,” said Brendan Hallinan, an attorney handling permitting for medical marijuana dispensaries.
“After the federal government specifically told Oakland ‘no way’ on their permitted-cultivation sites, it is ridiculous to ask SF MCDs to go right ahead and do the same thing,” Hallinan said.