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Supes OK pot regs

by David-Elijah Nahmod

The Board of Supervisors approved local regulations for recreational marijuana, but they will go into effect early next year, missing the January 1 date when sales of pot to adults becomes legal in California.

Golden State voters passed Proposition 64 last year, legalizing the adult use of marijuana.

"Today, the board heard our diverse communities and voted to protect medical cannabis patients, ensure equity, and allow adult cannabis use in San Francisco to begin in January," gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said in a statement after the vote.

The board voted 10-1 on a series of amendments to legislation introduced by Sheehy and Mayor Ed Lee. Supervisor Ahsha Safai was the lone dissenter.

The board approved creating a 600 foot "buffer zone" between schools and pot shops, despite multiple efforts by District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang to increase the buffer zone to 1,000 feet. Tang said she was merely reflecting the wishes of her constituents. Members of the Asian-American community loudly expressed their displeasure at the vote, forcing board President London Breed to call for order. One woman carried a sign that read, "Stay away from our children."

The 600 foot buffer zone is what the state recommends.

Also defeated was an attempt by Safai to get a three-dispensary cap in the Excelsior district, which he represents. District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee also failed at his own attempts to ban pot stores from West Portal Avenue and to limit the number of dispensaries on Ocean Avenue.

"I don't understand why we are pretending that this is so dangerous for children," said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen at the November 28 meeting. "Five and 3-year-olds don't know the difference between a pot shop and other shops. We are saying there is something wrong with these shops - I disagree with that."

Ronen also pointed out that pot shops would provide much needed jobs for blue-collar workers.

Sheehy, who uses medical cannabis to treat his HIV-related symptoms, said he agreed with Ronen. "For my community it wasn't that long ago that it was said 'these people can't be around children,'" he said.

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposed an amendment that would allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot beginning January 5. The board voted in favor of Peskin's motion. No attempt was made by Peskin to ban pot shops in Chinatown, which had been discussed in the past.

Prior to the board meeting a coalition of marijuana advocates, sellers, and growers rallied across the street from City Hall in support of District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen's equity proposals, which would help people with past marijuana convictions.

"We want to prioritize people that have been harmed by the failed war on drugs," said organizer Nina Parks. "Although marijuana arrests have been de-prioritized, people of color are still arrested for pot. We're here to show solidarity as a cannabis community."

The city's pot regulations were passed with an equity program that would benefit low-income residents, people with prior marijuana convictions, and people displaced from their homes. Half of the city's dispensaries would qualify for the program.

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