The San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided on Tuesday to delay approval on new regulations for recreational cannabis businesses, scheduled to be legal on January 1, 2018. The next board meeting is slated for November 28.
Despite rescheduling the vote for a later date, San Francisco’s regulations could be approved by New Year’s Day, if the board is able to meet a fast-approaching deadline that would allow approval from the city’s mayor. The board might also vote on the regulations if a special session is called.
Reportedly, the supervisors were split between enacting temporary, stopgap measures, in order to enable dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis on January 1, and board members that preferred to delay sales, until regulations can be approved.
Tuesday’s vote was also delayed by concerns over adequate zoning. In particular, local Chinese-American groups have lobbied strongly for the regulations to prohibit cannabis businesses within 1,500 feet of schools, childcare centers, and any other location that primarily served minors. Many in the community have also called for a ban of any marijuana retail outlets in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown.
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is also a medical marijuana patient, urged the board to take temporary measures that would allow sales. Sheehy and other cannabis advocates would like to see cannabis retail businesses regulated by a 600-foot distance to schools, churches, and other prohibited areas.
The board had also proposed a 1,000-foot limit, which business advocates argued was too prohibitive in a city as compact as San Francisco.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the district containing Chinatown, has proposed a measure that would allow 46 existing marijuana dispensaries to continue business, which would allow more time for the board to evaluate zoning issues.
San Francisco, like many California municipalities, is struggling to adopt a regulatory scheme for the city’s cannabis businesses, needed by growers and retailers before they can apply for state licenses.
In Sacramento, state regulators released temporary regulations last Thursday that will allow the state to issue temporary licenses as of Jan 1st.