San Francisco Adopts New Rules for Recreational Cannabis

After months of debate and consideration, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved new regulations for recreational cannabis activity yesterday. The legislation will come back to the Board next week for a final vote and then will go to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to sign it into law. Highlights of the new regulations are outlined below.

Existing Medical Dispensaries Allowed to Sell Recreational Cannabis

Beginning on January 5, 2018, existing medical dispensaries and delivery services currently operating in San Francisco will be allowed to sell recreational cannabis. The existing cannabis dispensaries must obtain a temporary 120-day license in order to participate in recreational cannabis sales.

Buffer Zone

In a victory for cannabis proponents, the “school buffer zone” was reduced from the previously recommended 1,000 feet to 600 feet, the amount recommended in the State regulations. Attempts to add day care facilities to the buffer zone were defeated. The regulations preserve the 600-feet mandatory radius between dispensaries.

Equity Program

Under the rules approved yesterday, half of the city’s dispensaries must qualify for an equity program that benefits low-income residents, people displaced from their homes and people with prior marijuana convictions. The equity program has been a central discussion point during debate over the last few months. Permits for new cannabis outlets will not be approved until equity applicants comprise half of the market.

Neighborhood Restrictions

Efforts to limit the number of cannabis dispensaries – or ban them outright – in certain neighborhoods were rejected by the Board of Supervisors, giving another win to cannabis proponents throughout San Francisco.