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Land Use Committee Whittles Down District 11 Marijuana Dispensary Cap

Two of District 11's three Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are located on one block.

At a special meeting on Thursday, the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee amended legislation to cap the number of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in District 11 to apply only to the Excelsior and Outer Mission commercial corridors.

In July, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation by District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai to cap the number of dispensaries in District 11 to three –– the current number.

District 11 activists who advocated for the cap got a scare when District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and Mayor Ed Lee added an amendment to eliminate the cap as part of new legislation regulating adult use cannabis, which will be legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

Safai, who attended the committee meeting but is not a member, agreed with the amendment.

“I think this is a little more of an elegant way based on the commercial corridors, versus the district-wide [cap],” Safai said.

In his explanation of the cap at the start of Thursday’s committee meeting, Safai said that, given the high number of vacancies on District 11’s Excelsior and Outer Mission corridors, residents would prefer new restaurants and other businesses rather than more dispensaries

“This is not a knock on the cannabis industry. I think if we were in a different place economically we would be willing to consider [more dispensaries],” Safai said.

Several District 11 community members spoke in support of the MCD cap at the meeting.

Supporters of Safai’s cap say that District 11 has enough MCDs, with three in the district and one nearby on Ocean Avenue.

“We strongly feel that our community is already adequately served,” Stephanie Cajina, executive director of the Excelsior Action Group, said at the meeting.

At the start of the committee meeting, Safai said there had been “some confusion” over the agenda item because of the complexity of the process of finalizing legislation to regulate legalized marijuana.

Cathy Mulkey Meyer, Safai’s legislative aide, said that the motion to repeal Safai’s amendment was added to the agenda without his knowledge and is one of many rapid-fire changes coming in the last six weeks of debate over adult use cannabis regulations.

In a meeting on Friday, Safai asked Lee to remove the amendment from the ordinance, according to Mulkey Meyer.

The committee meeting is one of many meetings to finalize regulations on adult use cannabis, which will become legal statewide on Jan. 1, 2018. San Franciscans passed Proposition 64 with 74 percent of the vote.

“Things are changing minute-to-minute,” Mulkey Meyer said of the final push to complete legislation to create a regulatory system.

On Thursday, Land Use and Transportation Committee Chair Mark Farrell said he expects the debate over the regulations to extend years past the Jan. 1, 2018 legalization.

“As much as I would also like to see a uniform approach across the city… I do understand that people have different ideas about their districts and want to be supportive of those,” Farrell said. “I want to make it clear off the bat that I acknowledge that tension and that’s something we’re going to have to work through for the next few weeks and the years to come.”

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