San Francisco Board of Supervisors Considers Regulation of Cannabis Clubs
The San Francisco Government Audit and Oversight Committee on Monday met to discuss proposed regulations on marijuana dispensaries and whether the city should require club operators to publicize business documents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/26).
Many club operators and medical marijuana users support increased regulation, including requiring documentation of permits, licenses and financial records.
However, Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland professor and author, said that such rules could move the city into the "netherworld" of regulating a banned substance.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is committed to preserving city residents' access to marijuana for medical use.
Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) last week proposed regulations to address concerns about dispensaries' location, growth and security (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25).
Using medical marijuana with permission from a physician is legal in the state under Proposition 215, which voters approved in 1996. However, use of the drug is still illegal under federal law.
Defense lawyer and former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan on Monday at the hearing Monday said that regulation of cannabis clubs could incriminate owners. Hallinan said, "I'd certainly advise any client of mine not to sign any document ... or keep any records that a federal grand jury could subpoena."
San Francisco Zoning Administrator Larry Badiner said that an increasing number of cannabis dispensaries have generated complaints about smoking at the clubs, loitering, noise, double-parking, people buying marijuana for nonmedical purposes and people reselling the product.
Badiner said San Francisco land-use regulations are based on an outdated interpretation of the zoning law. He added, "There are not many areas under that criteria that make it legal to operate [cannabis dispensaries]. It would be very difficult to locate under these rules."
Mirkarimi said, "Why we're congregated here today is not to ban clubs. We are trying to simply say something smart" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/26).
Newsom, who supports legalized use of marijuana for medical use, has said that requiring documentation might lead to federal action by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Lawrence Mendosa, assistant special agent for the San Francisco Field Division of the DEA, said that DEA could subpoena such documents. He added that they would help federal agents map the infrastructure of the marijuana distribution system in the city (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25).
The Chronicle on Sunday examined how the supervisors' decision "could set a national standard for regulation" of medical marijuana. Club owners, marijuana patients, doctors, police and city officials support regulating medical marijuana, and have cited a lack of regulation and "uncontrolled growth" of clubs as a threat to San Francisco's medical marijuana system, the Chronicle reports (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/24).
APM's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Tuesday reported on medical marijuana clubs in San Francisco. The segment includes comments from Beth Johnson, harm reduction counselor for the San Francisco Patients' Cooperative and Medical Cannabis Community Center; Mirkarimi; and Dennis Peron, who opened one of the first medical marijuana clubs in the city (Mullane, "Marketplace Morning Report," APM, 4/26). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.