San Francisco will beat Los Angeles to adult use cannabis sales

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San Francisco residents and visitors will be able to join in adult use cannabis sales starting on Saturday morning.

GreenState has received word from city officials that up to seven San Francisco medical cannabis retailers received local approval Thursday evening to sell to all adults 21 or older. Those stores used their new local permits to swiftly obtain state licenses Friday, and plan to open up Saturday morning, as early as 9 a.m.

San Francisco will become one of the largest major cities in the state to join in adult use sales to residents and tourists, missing the official launch day of Jan. 1 by just five days, but beating Los Angeles to market.

California’s adult use cannabis cannabis economy is slowly coming to life across the state, with almost 100 storefronts and delivery services open for business from San Diego to Eureka. Brisk sales began Jan. 1 in Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Santa Ana and beyond. West Hollywood began sales on Tuesday.

Customers purchase legal recreational marijuana at Berkeley Patients Group on Jan. 1, 2018.
Customers purchase legal recreational marijuana at Berkeley Patients Group on Jan. 1, 2018. | Photo by Jimi Devine

The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control continues to issue new permits each day to operators who have their local paperwork in order. Los Angeles operators remain sidelined from adult use sales as the massive city tries to make up for 21 years of regulatory neglect regarding its marijuana sector.

A tourism mecca, San Francisco’s half-dozen or so outlets expected to be open Saturday to all comers could see significant foot traffic. Cannabis retailers in major cities report seeing over 1,000 customers per day, spending an average of about $75 per purchase. Days after the launch, lines have persisted at outlets in Berkeley and Oakland, customers report. Taxes run about 25-35 percent on purchases, and there is limited supplies of some products.

San Francisco will begin recreational sales just 48 hours after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions changed Department of Justice marijuana policy. Attorney General Sessions rescinded marijuana prosecution orders issued under the Obama Administration to US Attorneys. Past orders instructed prosecutors to not focus on state-legal cannabis businesses.  

Sessions’ actions drew widespread rebuke from across the political spectrum Thursday. One in five Americans lives in a legalization state, and 29 states have medical cannabis laws. About 61 percent of U.S. voters support legalization. Officials from cities and states across the country have vowed to resist federal encroachment on lawful, state-legal cannabis activity. On Thursday the Vermont house of representatives voted to legalize marijuana in that state.

San Francisco has about three dozen operating medical cannabis dispensaries, and more than seven are expected to eventually obtain adult-use permits. City clubs face multiple levels of city review before they can get a temporary license from the Department of Public Health to engage in recreational sales.

One new rule mandates city marijuana businesses show how they will hire individuals with specific criminal records or from specific troubled neighborhoods — part of a drug war reparations program. The batch of rules was one of the last laws signed by late mayor Ed Lee. San Francisco’s new cannabis rules come into effect Friday, Jan. 5 at midnight, making Saturday, Jan. 6 the soonest adult use sales could begin.

The list of locally and state-licensed adult use retailers in San Francisco is:

  • Grass Roots, 1077 Post St.
  • Harvest on Geary, 4811 Geary Blvd.
  • MediThrive, 1933 Mission St.
  • ReLeaf Herbal Coop, 1284 Mission St.
  • The Apothecarium, 2029 Market St. (Sales start 9 a.m. Saturday; feat. State Sen. Scott Weiner, SF Supe. Jeff Sheehy at 8:15 a.m; ribbon-cutting 9 a.m.)
  • The Green Cross, 4218 Mission St. (Starts sales at 8 a.m. Sat. Jan. 6.)

*Shambhala’s state license is held up.

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Illustration by Conor Buckley

Thinking of going to an adult use store? Check out our California Cannabis Legalization Launch Guide, containing a map of store locations, a shopping checklist and tips, a legal overview and tax breakdown and more.

Cannabis Editor |? | San Francisco Chronicle. Award-winning journalist. Best-selling author.