S.F. Resumes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing (Again)


The Fresh Scent

‚ÄčSan Francisco’s on-again, off-again program to license medical marijuana dispensaries in the city has once again resumed operations. The medical cannabis dispensary program resumed licensing and inspecting collectives, Department of Public Health officials announced on Monday.

The ove came after the agency said last week that the application process was “suspended indefinitely,” and that announcement had come after the city had announced it would continue licensing the shops. And that announcement had come after the initial suspension of licensing in December following a court ruling.

Under the “clarified rules,” existing dispensaries must sign a statement swearing that all medical marijuana sold onsite is grown in California and comes from a grower who is a member of the dispensary’s nonprofit collective, reports Chris Roberts for the S.F. Examiner.
The health department has responsibility for inspecting and licensing the city’s 21 existing medical marijuana businesses and accepting applications from prospective operators of new collectives.
Processing of new applications was halted in December following a ruling in a state appeals court. In that case, Pack v. the City of Long Beach, the court ruled that California cities violated federal law by regulating and permitting medical marijuana.
That ruling was vacated when the California Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal, and San Francisco’s city attorney gave the health department the green light to resume its program on January 20. But the department had announced last week that all applications were still on hold indefinitely.
Some changes were made in the licensing and inspection program.
Several types of cannabis-infused food produced by companies outside San Francisco and sold at many Bay Area dispensaries are now banned in the city, according to a memo issued by Larry Kessler, a senior inspector at the health department who runs the medical marijuana program.
Dispensaries also “may not sell or distribute medical cannabis or medical cannabis products produced by commercial enterprises or by another collective/cooperative,” Kessler wrote.
San Francisco was the first city in California to license dispensaries when the Board of Supervisors passed the Medical Cannabis Act in 2005. The city currently has 21 shops, down from 26 a year ago. Since November, five have closed after receiving threatening letters from Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for Northern California.
The city’s Planning Department is expected to review two applications for new dispensaries in the Excelsior district at its February 16 meeting, including one that was submitted more than a year ago.