ASA meeting report (Tues. July 12)

I attended the Americans for Safe Access meeting this evening at a cannabis club located at 174 Valencia Street. The event was attended by about 25 people.

  The main topic of discussion was the legislation being proposed in the Board of Supervisors to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in SF. Supervisors Gerardo Sandoval and Ross Mirkarimi have each come up with separate legislative proposals. All those familiar with Sandoval's plan said that it was terrible. It was also stated that Sandoval, along with Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier, is "in Gavin Newsom's pocket" on the issue, and that Newsom wants to really rein in the pot clubs. Therefore the focus of the group was to look at and discuss Mirkarimi's proposal.

  It had been thought by many in the group that Supervisor Mirkarimi, who belongs to the Green Party, was generally friendly to the cause, despite his authoring the current moratorium on new dispensaries (a move he insisted was necessary in order to forestall more restrictive legislation from being passed). And he is apparently still open to talking with people in the medical marijuana community about their ideas for legislation. But Michael Aldritch, who said he has been working with the District 5 Supe on the issue since his election last year, reported that the contents of Mirkarimi's current proposal are not much better than Sandoval's ("crap" was the term that he used to describe the plan).

  Mirkarimi's proposed legislation as currently written includes the following provisions:

-Prohibits dispensaries from being located in residential-house and residential-mixed zoning districts; a list of districts where clubs would be permitted "on the first story" is included in the legislation
-Requires Planning Department notice to interested individuals and properties within 300 feet of proposed dispensaries and a 30-day waiting period on building permit applications to give neighbors time to organize and stir up shit against clubs [my words!]
-Requires dispensaries operating before April 1, 2005, to obtain a permit within 18 months the legislation takes effect or cease operation
-Makes possession of a city-issued medical marijuana card mandatory to be admitted to a dispensary (the card scheme was introduced as a voluntary program)
-Applies the term "patient collective" only to retail dispensaries, leaving growers of medical marijuana legally unprotected
-Requires a non-refundable $7,396 application fee from anyone applying to open a dispensary
-Requires dispensaries to pay a $2,182 annual license fee to the Tax Collector
-Signage for dispensaries shall be limited to "one wall sign not to exceed ten square feet in area, and one identifying sign not to exceed two square feet in area; such signs shall not be directly illuminated."
-Dispensaries "shall provide litter removal services twice each day of operation on and in front of the premises and, if necessary, on public sidewalks within 100 feet of the premises."
-"Excessive profits," defined as "receipt of consideration of a value substantially higher than the reasonable costs of operating the facility" are prohibited.
-Dispensaries where cannabis is smoked on site must be at least "1,000 feet from an elementary or secondary school, community clubhouse, neighborhood center or other community cultural center" (message: medical marijuana providers and patients are second-class citizens who aren't really welcome in our community)
-Dispensaries where cannabis is not smoked on site must still be 500 feet from any of the facilities mentioned above, and all dispensaries must be at least 300 feet from any "institution for the treatment of addictive diseases" (someone apparently being under the mistaken impression that marijuana use is an addictive disease).
-Creates a special infraction for double-parking in front of a dispensary ($100 fine)
-Statement that the issuance of a dispensary permit "does not authorize violation of State or Federal law."

  I thought a requirement that dispensaries open their books to the SFPD and the Building Department (possibly others?) was also mentioned at the meeting, but I could not find it in the legislation. Possibly that is a feature of Sandoval's legislation, not Mirkarimi's.

  That's just the more objectionable stuff. I have a copy of the legislation in front of me, and it is 16 pages of all the usual bullshit that the city imposes on anyone trying to run any kind of business in San Francisco. In other words, this is a bid to bring the medical marijuana clubs, and the revenue associated with them, completely under the thumb of and into the pockets of city government, without even giving the medical marijuana community a damned thing in return in terms of enhanced legal protection against the predation of federal or state authorities.

  One person present at the meeting mentioned that Supervisor Elsbernd (no friend of marijuana rights, apparently) has floated the idea of the city allowing eight marijuana dispensaries (there are currently 40). Someone else suggested that if Sandoval's or Mirkarimi's legislation passes, that's about how many might still be able to legally operate.

  I'm copying this message to Susan King of the Green Party, who is a marijuana rights supporter. I hope that she will pass this on to other Greens and encourage them to press their supervisor not to sell out medical marijuana patients in San Francisco. I'm sure most San Franciscans, let alone most Green Party members, did not have these kind of draconian controls and fees in mind when they overwhelmingly voted for the Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215) which granted Californians the right to grow and use marijuana for medicine on a doctor's recommendation without any of this kind of nonsense.

Yours in liberty,
        <<< Starchild >>>
  Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco

P.S. - Don't forget the following related upcoming events:

THIS FRIDAY, July 15, 9am - Hearing in City Hall Room 400 on plan to force the Green Cross dispensary at 22nd and Valencia streets to close; coincidentally(?), an attendee reported that this is one of the only clubs in the city to have been granted a conditional use permit. The main complainant against the club is allegedly a bar by the ironic name of Liberty at 22nd and Guerrero.

Thursday, July 21, 8pm - Benefit for Americans for Safe Access at the Edge bar, 18th and Collingwood streets in the Castro, featuring an $8 beer bust and hot ass contest (I will probably participate!)