Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - Page B - 2
Copyright: 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: [email protected]
S.F. Calif. -- Former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan
told a Board of Supervisors committee Monday that strict regulation of
pot clubs in San Francisco isn't feasible.
Now a defense lawyer, Hallinan said, "I'd certainly advise any client of
mine not to sign any document ... or keep any records that a federal
grand jury could subpoena."
Hallinan, a longtime champion of medical marijuana, spoke at a public
hearing of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, which is trying
to figure out how to rein in the burgeoning pot dispensaries in the
The hours-long meeting drew dozens of speakers and a packed crowd at
With an estimated 43 such dispensaries, San Francisco is home to more
pot clubs than any other California municipality. The growth has spawned
complaints about smoking at the clubs, loitering, noise, double-parking,
people buying marijuana who don't have a medical need for it, and people
reselling the product on the street, said Larry Badiner, the city's
The hearing was called by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who last month got
passed a 45-day moratorium on new clubs. He reassured the crowd that the
supervisors are dedicated to preserving access to medical marijuana in
Using medical marijuana at the recommendation of a physician is legal in
California under the 1996 Compassionate Use Act, also known as
Proposition 215. However, any use of the drug is still illegal under
"Why we're congregated here today is not to ban clubs. We are trying to
simply say something smart," Mirkarimi said. "There's nothing wrong with
saying that if you are going to allow patients to consume cannabis, then
having a proper ventilation system is not unwise."
Proper ventilation is one of a number of recommendations that Mayor
Gavin Newsom has submitted to the Board of Supervisors.
Badiner, of the Planning Department, was asked to testify regarding
current requirements applying to pot clubs and what authority the
department could offer to a city law regulating them.
"The land use regulations are the weakest they could be and still be
considered regulations," and are based on a decade-old interpretation of
the zoning law made by his predecessor, Badiner said.
However, he said, the city does require that any business, including a
pot club, fill out a change-of-use form.
"Only two of those have actually happened," Badiner said. "Only two of
those have gone through the legal process, leaving the rest of them
without the benefit of permit."
The Planning Department could follow one of Newsom's recommendations and
prohibit pot clubs within 1,000 feet of public schools, youth and
child-care centers, drug treatment facilities and parks, he said.
But, Badiner said, "There are not many areas under that criteria that
make it legal to operate these. It would be very difficult to locate
under these rules."
He said that supervisors could consider the majority of the clubs
illegal, since only two have any kind of permit; or, they could
grandfather in existing clubs.
Proponents of medicinal marijuana fear that increased regulation of the
clubs would create a paper trail that federal drug enforcement officials
could use to clamp down on dispensaries. But others, including Mirkarimi,
argue that though the threat of a raid is always there, it's in the best
interest of the city and the patients to make sure the clinics are well
San Francisco has become a magnet for the businesses since surrounding
municipalities have started regulating the clubs in their areas.
Related Articles & Web Site:
Medicinal Cannabis Research Links
City Hearing Examines Options for Regulating
High Time To Regulate
Newsom Offers Plan To Regulate Pot Clubs
Newsom Declares Moratorium on Marijuana Clubs