SF pot task force issues recommendations
by Sari Staver
San Francisco's Cannabis State Legalization Task Force has approved 80 recommendations on how the city should implement Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which was passed by 56.5 percent of California voters in November.
The recommendations, which address a wide range of policy issues, including land use and social justice, public safety and social environment, and regulation and city agency framework, will be presented to the Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Transportation Committee in January.
Prepared by the task force's 22 members after a year of study, the recommendations are included in a 181-page report published by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter , task force Chair Terrance Alan said he was "very proud of the report, which was developed entirely by consensus" and was anticipating next year's goal to develop specific legislative proposals "to manage the newly created legalized cannabis marketplace, from plant to consumer."
Alan, a gay man, is an activist and cannabis industry consultant and previously served as president of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission.
The new recommendations stemmed from passage of Prop 64, which made it legal for individuals age 21 and older to possess, transport, purchase, consume, and share up to one ounce of cannabis and eight grams of cannabis concentrates; and personally cultivate up to six plants in their private residence.
Along with a state-based regulatory structure, Prop 64 also allows localities to tailor implementation of the law to their needs and preferences. In anticipation of this, then-San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener sponsored legislation creating the task force to advise the city. Wiener was sworn in earlier this month as San Francisco's new state senator.
According to Alan, Prop 64 can be amended by the state Legislature if, for example, a city or county decides that elements of the new law "don't work in their culture."
For example, said Alan, San Francisco is "a city of foodies" that may want to try to change the law's prohibition of selling or using cannabis in any establishment that sells alcohol.
"There is already a cannabis catering industry," Alan said, and "we will want to discuss the limitations" of forbidding the use of cannabis in restaurants and bars, he said.
Alan said the task force studied the experiences of states that had adopted cannabis legalization to understand any "unintended consequences."
For example, Colorado's cannabis regulations banned consumption of marijuana in public, putting tourists who bought products legally "into a position of breaking the law" unless they went back to their hotel room to use it.
"In San Francisco," noted Alan, "we have a huge tourist economy" and should anticipate figuring out "how and where" the city expects people to consume.
"It's definitely something we want to address in our proposed legislation" next year, Alan said.
Some of the 80 recommendations issued in the current report are:
● Local policy guidelines for driving under the influence should be developed that are based on behavior testing until science-based testing exists.
● San Francisco should allow on-site consumption at cannabis retail locations.
● The San Francisco Unified School District should be involved in developing age-appropriate cannabis education for San Francisco schools' health education program.
● Because it's unlikely that, even with the most robust cannabis education programs for youth, there will be a zero percent usage rate among minors, San Francisco schools should take a reality and science-based disciplinary approach and rely on harm reduction principles to manage such situations. For example, for minors who commit cannabis-related offenses while at school, suspension and expulsion should not be the default tools used by schools to discipline students.
● San Francisco should include adult use cannabis retail businesses in existing "formula retail" rules, which state that if an establishment has 11 or more retail locations worldwide, it is subject to a more stringent review and authorization process.
● San Francisco should collaborate with schools and colleges to develop training and apprenticeship programs for individuals to participate in all aspects of the cannabis industry to increase opportunities for people to enter the industry.
● San Francisco should develop a mechanism to prioritize the re-permitting of medical cannabis business operators who were shut down by the federal government or lost their original permit due to sale of building and loss of lease.
● San Francisco should ensure that those with a criminal justice history are not automatically barred from job opportunities within the cannabis industry, and that license holders are incentivized to hire people with a criminal justice history to the extent possible.
● San Francisco should create incentives for cannabis businesses to hire local residents and individuals from communities affected by mass incarceration. The city should also create hiring preference policies for residents who have moved out of the city due to the high cost of living.
● San Francisco should engage workforce development organizations, community-based organizations, community members, and other key stakeholders to develop strategies to reduce economic barriers for people of color, women, and formerly incarcerated persons to enter the cannabis industry as entrepreneurs.
● San Francisco should develop pathways, such as an amnesty program, to encourage existing businesses to transition from the illicit to legal market.
● San Francisco should consider creation of new types of licenses, to accommodate the diverse businesses within the adult use cannabis industry, such as special baking or cooking licenses, consumption lounges, or events such as farmers' markets.
● San Francisco should consider establishing local cannabis taxes to generate revenue that may be allocated to local cannabis legalization priorities not already funded through state taxes or other funding mechanisms.
To read the report, visit https://www.sfdph.org/dph/comupg/knowlcol/csl/default.asp.