Up in Smoke: PJI Keeps Medical Cannabis Dispensary Out of S.F. Neighborhood

San Francisco, CA–The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) convinced San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to overturn a decision by the city’s Planning Commission allowing a medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) to operate near a church and a preschool.
The Board voted 9-2 to overturn the decision, which would have allowed The Apothecarium—a San Francisco-based medical marijuana chain backed by former Oakland mayor Jean Quan and her husband, Dr. Floyd Huen—to open an MCD at 2505 Noriega Street.  It was a major victory for residents of the city’s Sunset District, who had repeatedly come out in force to Planning Commission and Board meetings to voice their opposition to the MCD operating across the street from the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit) and a block away from Ark of Hope Preschool (Ark of Hope).

“Both California and federal law strongly disfavor operating MCDs near places where children congregate,” said PJI President Brad Dacus.  “The law and common sense both tell us that those places include preschools and churches.”
San Francisco’s Planning Code prohibits MCDs from operating within 600 feet of schools and community or recreational centers that primarily serve children.  However, the Commission claimed that Ark of Hope did not meet the Planning Code’s definition of a “school” and that Holy Spirit did not qualify as a community or recreational center.  For those reasons, the Planning Commission voted 5-1 at its July 13 meeting to grant a conditional use allowing The Apothecarium to operate an MCD at the Noriega Street location.
PJI appealed the decision, and at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, PJI attorney Ray Hacke successfully argued that the children who attend Ark of Hope and Holy Spirit are as vulnerable to the dangers attendant to MCDs as kids who attend institutions protected under the Planning Code.  As an added bonus, District 6 Supervisor Jean Kim informed the Planning Commission of the need to draft legislation protecting children who attend preschools like Ark of Hope.
“MCDs present a danger to minors because of their adverse secondary effects, including crimes related to the black market that still exists for marijuana,” Dacus said.  “These range from drug trafficking to minors to robbery and even murder.  Consequently, we applaud the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for choosing to listen to the parents of the Sunset District and for responsibly voting to protect their children from such adverse consequences.”
PJI is committed to representing churches and other religious organizations against MCDs’ interference with the use and enjoyment of their property.  For more information, contact PJI at (916) 857-6900.

Watch the response of PJI President, Brad Dacus: