San Francisco creating Office of Cannabis to handle marijuana business licensing

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — With legalized recreational marijuana sales fast approaching, San Francisco is set to create a new Office of Cannabis to handle cannabis permits and complaints and serve as a centralized resource for the public and businesses.

The new office, part of the city administrator’s office, would be responsible for developing and managing a permitting process for all cannabis-related businesses, dealing with complaints, providing policy analysis and development and serving as a single point of contact for businesses, the public and state regulators.

The mayor’s budget for the next fiscal year includes $700,000 for the office, which would include three positions and $225,000 for web site development, public outreach, and overhead.

The office is expected to recover at least some of its expenses through permitting fees.

Currently, the Department of Public Health manages permits and inspections for medical marijuana dispensaries.

There are 39 dispensaries licensed to operate in San Francisco and another 28 applications in the pipeline, according a report from the budget and legislative analyst.

Following the voter approval in November 2016 of the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” however, the city and state are racing to create regulations and permit processes for non-medicinal cannabis sales as well.

Those regulations are currently expected to be in place by Jan. 1, 2017, with the Board of Supervisors likely to vote on a local ordinance this fall.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on legislation creating the Office of Cannabis, sponsored by Supervisors Jeff Sheehy and Malia Cohen, at Tuesday’s meeting.

The board is also expected to vote Tuesday on legislation extending zoning controls for marijuana production businesses through the end of the year to allow more time for permanent city regulations to be developed.

The zoning controls, introduced by Mayor Ed Lee last November, require operators to seek a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission if they want to set up shop in areas zoned for light industrial and community services uses.

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