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San Francisco establishes an ‘Office of Cannabis’

July 22, 2017
Production supervisor Joshua Ramos trims marijuana plants in a flowering nursery at ButterBrand farms in San Francisco, California, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016.
Gabrielle Lurie
Production supervisor Joshua Ramos trims marijuana plants in a flowering nursery at ButterBrand farms in San Francisco, California, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016.
SOURCE: Gabrielle Lurie

San Francisco Board of Supervisors last Tuesday established a new Office of Cannabis to tackle legal marijuana -- and it felt like the city created a Harry Potter ‘Ministry of Magic.’

The Office, set to open later this year, will be a “one-stop shop” for medical and recreational cannabis, according to Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who co-sponsored the ordinance establishing the office with supervisor Malia Cohen.

The office will primarily handle cannabis permitting applications, according to Cohen, but will also resolve complaints and serve as a centralized information source for the public.

The Board also approved Tuesday $700,000 (out of a $10 million city budget) to fund the three-staff-member Office of Cannabis. The positions--a Manager, Principal Analyst, and a Management Assistant--are currently being reviewed.

Prior to the ordinance’s approval, some supervisors expressed concern that the marijuana industry would end up looking a lot like San Francisco’s tech market: male and white.

“We have not done a good job of getting equity in the tech sector,” Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said, anticipating that people of color, those disproportionately affected by the country’s drug laws, would be prevented from entering the developing cannabis industry.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai amended the ordinance to consider communities adversely affected by drug policies, in response to Supervisor Fewer’s concerns.

The board unanimously approved the ordinance on the first reading.

While creating an Office of Cannabis is an important step for mainstreaming recreational cannabis in San Francisco, a lot is left to be done.

“Let’s be clear. This ordinance only creates the one-stop shop for permitting,” said Supervisor Sheehy. “Most of the policy work on cannabis is yet to come.”

Read the full story on SFGate.com.