San Francisco Mayor Newsom Proposes Moratorium on New Medical Marijuana Clubs
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday requested a moratorium on new medical marijuana clubs in the city, "after learning that one plans to open on the ground floor of a city-funded welfare hotel," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In response, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is expected to introduce an ordinance that would impose a 45-day moratorium on new clubs while the city looks at how to regulate them.
Cannabis clubs in the city do not need licenses or planning permits and are under no restrictions on prices or client age. According to the Chronicle, some supervisors already had been working on how to regulate the clubs in areas such as taxing and planning, law enforcement issues and health concerns.
The moratorium could be passed as early as next week.
The cannabis club that "grabbed Newsom's attention" was the Holistic Center, the Chronicle reports. The center plans to open Friday in the All-Star Hotel, which houses people receiving welfare benefits and several people seeking treatment for substance use.
"We have frankly ... been lax on this," Newsom said, adding, "I will take personal criticism to the extent that I am the mayor of San Francisco, that I have not been diligent, and nor has the elected family been diligent, in the oversight." Newsom said he believes in medicinal marijuana but he also thinks "there needs to be some common sense and grounding as it relates to the proliferation of these clubs in San Francisco."
Newsom said that when his office discovered the opening of the Holistic Center, officials begin examining how they could amend their contracts "with the Department of Human Services to restrict the ... use of medicinal marijuana clubs in [welfare] facilities."
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said the moratorium "seems reasonable," adding, "Right now, it is the only manner of land use that's not regulated. It's not a matter of, are you for or against them. They should be subject to the same rules we use for everything from restaurants to adult theaters."
Wayne Justmann, an advocate of medical marijuana in the city, said, "This is long overdue that guidelines be set up" (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/22).
According to the Chronicle, the "legalized [medical marijuana] business" is "booming" in San Francisco, where several new medical marijuana dispensaries recently have opened or plan to soon open. Roughly 37 of the state's 126 dispensaries and support groups are located in the city. San Francisco has had a doubling of new clubs in the past 18 months, and the number of patients requesting medical marijuana ID cards in the city has tripled to 7,000.
Residents and officials trace the local increase in clubs to the Oakland City Council's decision last year to cap the number of clubs in their district at four (Matier/Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/20).
In related news, Santa Rosa city officials said they were "surprised" to learn that three medical marijuana clubs had opened in their city -- including one across the street from City Hall -- and "pledged quick action on laws to regulate them," the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
City council members said they will consider rules to "control where and when clubs may open, how many can operate in the city and the conduct expected of customers," the Press Democrat reports. The city also is considering regulations on growing the drug. Officials will review other communities' regulations over the next 60 days and seek guidance on the issue from Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D).
According to the Press Democrat, some of the owners and customers of the local clubs said they would welcome regulations as long as the new rules "don't add to costs or limit access" (Payne, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/18).
While voters in 1996 legalized medicinal marijuana to help "people most in need," the Legislature's failure to "provide clear direction" on the measure caused "all those good intentions" to go "up in smoke," a Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial states.
The editorial concludes, "What's plain is that California needs Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the state Legislature to come forward with a coherent system which regulates how marijuana is bought and sold, eliminates the current abuses and guarantees that the truly sick receive the help they need" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/19).