San Francisco supervisors vote to create Office of Cannabis

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It's official - San Francisco supervisors have unanimously voted to create an office that'll oversee the permit process for marijuana. Recreational pot for adults becomes legal statewide in January. (KGO-TV)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to create an Office of Cannabis, which would oversee the process to approve permits for the sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use, which becomes legal statewide in January.

Mayor Ed Lee's budget proposal includes $700,000 to fund the Office of Cannabis. The office would include a staff of three to handle public outreach.

San Francisco currently has 46 medical marijuana dispensaries, but city leaders are expecting aspiring dispensary operators to try to jump into the cannabis industry by the new year.

SPARC dispensary in the South of Market neighborhood looks more like a high tech coffee house with medical marijuana orders placed by touchscreen. In keeping with the times, this shop is looking into selling recreational pot.

San Francisco supervisors voted to create the new office to handle the anticipated demand.

"So the idea is -- how are we going to manage that growth? What's the right number? What's the right amount for San Francisco," asked Supervisor Ahsha Safai.

Those questions prompted Safai to propose legislation to cap the number of dispensaries at three in San Francisco's Excelsior neighborhood, which is in his district.

"The idea that someone else is going to come in in other places and there's going to be this explosion of recreation, that's not gonna happen," he said.

It will be left up to the Office of Cannabis to manage to the permit process.

Safai says it makes sense for existing dispensaries to get priority when it comes to recreational permits.

"They have been vetted, they've gone through the process, they've been authorized by the planning department," said the supervisor. "The operators have had their backgrounds vetted."

Critics argued the new office may add more red tape with fees and legal hoops.

Supervisors say some of the fees are intended to fund the office's operating budget.

The goal is to have a single point of contact to manage business owners' questions, regulators' questions, and potential public complaints.

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