California and Recreational Sales

Cities Still Struggling to Hash Out Rules

Lots of things happened on Election Day 2016, and one of the happier outcomes was the passage of The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) in California, which legalizes sales of recreational cannabis statewide on January 1, 2018. But with less than two months to go, cities are still hashing out (pun intended) the details of the legal framework for rec sales.

In San Francisco, for instance, the Board of Supervisors just delayed another vote on regulations for sales. The primary issues being debated are zoning and land use, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the horizon.

There are currently between 30 and 50 Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) in the city, and they’re required to be 1,000 feet away from schools and recreation centers that primarily serve minors. Cannabis advocates are calling for the buffer to be reduced to 600 feet for retail cannabis stores – the radius required of stores that sell liquor or tobacco.

But some Chinese American organizations are fighting against recreational sales and want an outright prohibition in the city’s Chinatown. At the very least, these groups want retail stores to be a minimum of 1,500 feet away from schools and daycare centers. In a city as compact as San Francisco, that’s a prohibitive distance.

Speaking to the LA Times, family social worker Ellen Lee said that most of the people in Chinatown who oppose retail sales are elderly and speak little to no English. Regardless, Chinese Americans carry a lot of political clout in San Francisco, where the mayor is Chinese American, one-third of the city’s 850,000 residents are Asian, and Chinese Americans are the largest Asian sub-group.

Meanwhile, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy introduced an amendment that would allow existing MCDs to temporarily become retail stores while they apply for new permits and while the legalities are being determined.

Suffice it to say, the situation is a mess that will probably not be resolved by January 1st. Once again, The Green Solution® is happy to have gotten its start in Colorado – a state that took its time and got it right.