S.F. Health Dept. Recommends Dispensaries Ditch Concentrates


Elemental Wellness
Concentrates like this Headband Wax aren’t exactly “banned” under a new Department of Public Health memo. But DPH “recommends” that the dispensaries “not produce or dispense” them. WTF?

​There’s no enforcement mechanism and it’s not a “ban,” says the San Francisco Department of Health. But nonetheless, a memo released to several dispensaries recommends that medical marijuana dispensaries in the city stop selling cannabis concentrates.

Under the heading “Medical Cannabis Edibles Advisory,” DPH, the department which regulates San Francisco’s 21 dispensaries, recommends the collectives “do not produce or dispense syrups, capsules, or other extracts that either required concentrating cannabis ingredients or that requires a chemical production process,” reports Chris Roberts at SF Weekly.

There are figurative WTFs all over the advisory, which could be quite problematic for S.F. shops, which could arguably be required to remove many cannabis-infused edible products, as well as hashes, kiefs, oils, tinctures, and other concentrates from their shelves in order to be seen as “playing by the rules.” This is of more than casual interest, since recent federal raids have usually been blamed on shops violating state and local laws (all dispensaries are technically in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act at all times).

William Breathes/Denver Westword
CO2-extracted hash oil

​If S.F. really goes forward with the ill-advised (non)”ban,” patients could be adversely impacted, as well. Many patients need the concentrated forms of cannabis to combat their symptoms, and quite a few can’t smoke or vaporize due to lung issues, instead sprinkling kief, hash or oil in hot cocoa or coffee or on food, or eating hash brownies, for instance.
The memo in question, according to SF Weekly, “purports to deal more with medical marijuana edibles, which means any orally consumed medical marijuana products, from a brownie to a cough drop and a tincture or a tea.”
“To avoid potential hazards associated with edibles, the Department recommends medical cannabis and collectives … limit the production of medical cannabis edibles to non-hazardous foods, such as baked goods, candies and teas,” the memo reads. (What, exactly, is a hazardous food?)
Shops are also advised to “clearly label medical cannabis edibles” (a good idea) and to “be able to trace all medical cannabis edibles to their source constituents,” among other things.
DPH spokeswoman Eileen Shields reiterated in an email to the Weekly that there’s no “ban” in place. San Francisco city law [PDF] defines medical marijuana as “all parts of the plant cannabis.”
One of the most troubling parts of this all is that dispensaries could be seen as “violating DPH regulations” and such violations could be used as excuses to shut the shops down. And, as the Weekly points out, it could make the city’s dispensaries “look bad” in front of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which has no doubt just been itching for an excuse to raid more shops.
“It would make us look like we’re skirting the rules,” said an anonymous dispensary operator.
Could this be an attempt to take the dispensaries out of the tincture business before Sativex — the Big Pharma tincture made by the U.K.’s GW Pharmaceutical — makes its American debut?
Patient advocates and activists including David Goldman of Americans for Safe Access are scheduled to attend the Department of Public Health’s 4 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, to inform them that cannabis concentrates must stay in the dispensaries.