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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pot Dispensary in the Sunset Galls School District. In the Mission, Not So Much.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 10:35 AM

It turns out the San Francisco Unified School District doesn't always say no...
  • It turns out the San Francisco Unified School District doesn't always say no...

Kids these days have plenty to worry about, not the least of which is the threat posed by medical cannabis. Recent studies show more high schoolers in America use pot than smoke cigarettes, and San Francisco public school officials are well aware of this scourge among us. Pot clubs can "serve as a resource to provide cannabis to the broader student population" at the city's high schools, as San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia noted in a November letter, which was written in opposition to an approved pot club at 31st Avenue and Taraval Street in the Sunset, 0.8 miles away from Lincoln High School.

The law forbids such a club within 1,000 feet of a school; the Taraval club was outside of the verboten zone, but had its permit revoked at an Board of Appeals hearing nonetheless.

Anywhere where teens congregate or where Muni lines run is no place for a dispensary, Garcia wrote. So you'd think the school district raised holy hell when a Mission District pot club received a permit to operate at 20th and Mission Streets.

When it opens, Shambhala Healing Center will be sandwiched between two high schools and one middle school -- to the east is John O'Connell on 19th and Folsom, 0.3 miles away; 0.4 miles to the south is Horace Mann Middle School; and to the west is Mission High, 0.7 miles away.

That kind of proximity elicited the following from Garica: Nothing.

No elected officials or community members spoke out against the pot club -- in fact, Shambhala received warm support from the local supervisor on its way to unanimous approval at the Planning Commission. David Campos listed Shambhala's close proximity to Muni and BART lines as a benefit, not a liability.


What gives? Garcia did not deign to go on record with SF Weekly, but SFUSD spokeswoman Heidi Anderson said this apparent discrepancy is merely a matter of dissemination. Supervisor Carmen Chu, who made stopping the Taraval Street dispensary something of a key issue this year, "asked [Garcia] to write the letter, based on the high amount of student traffic there [at 31st Avenue and Taraval Street]," Anderson told SF Weekly.

"The dispensary at 20th and Mission has not been brought to our attention before," said Anderson, who added that once the principals at Mission, Mann and O'Connell return from the winter recess, the alarm will be raised.

Odd that it would take a supervisor to alert the school district about the impending pot threat, especially when there are pot clubs already in the Mission (two on Valencia Street and two on Mission, at 15th and 30th Streets, respectively). But cannabis advocates feel this is further proof that pot has been politicized. Shambhala is the project of Krissy Keefer, an artist, activist and onetime congressional candidate who is a certified friend of the city's progressives. Shambhala won support from Campos, not opposition.

So is the school district *really* worried that legal cannabis will find its way onto its campuses, or is it an activist for hire? Either way, "This apparent hypocritical double standard undermines the school district's credibility," said David Goldman, of the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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