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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mirkarimi Jumps on the Marijuana Express -- and Our Bowl Runneth Over

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Try San Francisco-brand medical marijuana!
  • Try San Francisco-brand medical marijuana!
Coming on the heels of Tom Ammiano's marijuana legalization bill in the Assembly, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's Tuesday proposal that San Francisco jump into the medical pot dispensary game was a bonanza for media types and marijuana nay-sayers: Everyone got to trot out their tired puns two times for the price of one.

While Ammiano's proposal has been back-burnered -- and that is not a pun -- it remains to be seen what lies ahead for Mirkarimi's plan. But by this point, the question shouldn't be "Should city governments be in charge of distributing medical marijuana?" but "Should San Francisco's government be in charge of anything?"

We wrote yesterday about how the city's smothering requirements -- joyously accompanied by reams of paperwork -- kept many of the world's best trolley restoration firms from even entering a bid for rebuilding the city's oldest car -- and led to the city spending several years hammering out a contract that ended up costing San Francisco at least an additional third because of the city's onerous regulations and bureaucratic nooks and crannies. So, can you imagine what kind of process awaits for those hoping to grow and sell pot to the city? Will they have to provide a certain level of health care and benefits to their employees (and employees' domestic partners)? Will the deal be off if they do business with Myanmar? Will it be mandated a percentage of the pot emanate from female and minority growers?

Mirkarimi said he viewed his proposal as "cost-neutral" because of ability to cover costs via sales. Good Lord, you mean there's money in selling drugs? Incidentally, has anyone ever before aspired to simply break even from a large-scale marijuana-selling operation? If mind-numbing city regulations do indeed drive up the cost of acquiring pot, this may turn out to be an optimistic goal. But in a city that has proposed to fill its empty, echoing coffers by instituting a taxi medallion auction bonanza, is it unreasonable to expect a foray into marijuana distribution to turn a little profit?

(Incidentally, this was the backbone of Ammiano's bill; he predicted

billions in tax revenues for the state via legal pot.)

The San Francisco marijuana

dispensary regulation laws Mirkarimi was instrumental in drafting are

considered to be a template for the nation -- kudos to him. It's hard

to think of an American city where those in medical need who wish to obtain

marijuana are better-served. So if there's no money in this for the

city -- but, God knows, there's risk -- well, we're a bit confused.

We're also confused about Nathan Ballard, Mayor Gavin Newsom's spokesman. In what we're hoping was an e-mail to the Chronicle -- the thought of him actually uttering the following out loud is too horrifying -- he stated:

"The mayor will have to hash this out with public health officials. It's the mayor's job to weed out

bad legislation. And to be blunt, this sounds pretty bad."

Can someone get Ballard the message that, unless your name is George Carlin, puns are not funny? Ballard, are you a grandparent? Did this statement come sandwiched between fond reminiscences of listening to Fibber McGee and Molly  on the wirless and recollections of how cold it was in Bastogne in '44? Do you wear a cardigan to work? Do you regale people with tales about your youthful prowess at marbles? Do you have a "trick" body part? Are you known to share anecdotes about the folks at Ellis Island changing your name from "Ballardwitzbergschwartzstein"? Or did they give you the name "Ballard" because that's the name of the town you're from, Godfather-style?

We're dying to know. Why don't you e-mail us sometime?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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