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Friday, June 3, 2011

Medical Marijuana Booth Shut Out of Union Street Fair

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Maybe Restivo needs medical marijuana ... to chill out
  • Maybe Restivo needs medical marijuana ... to chill out

Alcohol is legal, but you won't be seeing any of it this weekend at the now-dry Union Street Fair. Medical marijuana, too, is legal, but you won't be seeing any evidence of that, either. Not after the promoter handling the Cow Hollow street fete, Steven Restivo Event Services, denied entry to a promotional booth run by Medithrive, a Mission District medical cannabis dispensary.

"We are not interested in having you at any of our events -- no more need to apply to our shows," Restivo wrote in an e-mail to dispensary manager Stephen Rechif. "That is 100 percent my decision."

Medithrive has successfully run booths at other street fairs, including the Haight Street festival -- without issue, Rechif says. And booths aren't cheap. Medithrive wrote $1,000 checks to Restivo to reserve booths, but they were returned -- uncashed.

So what's Restivo's problem, exactly?

Looks like even in San Francisco, there are plenty of people who don't like legal pot -- or the money it brings in. "Union Street Festival doesn't want medical cannabis there," Rechif tells SF Weekly. "They have something against our industry ... and there's nothing we can do about it."

Resistance to legitimate medical marijuana providers -- and Medithrive is certainly that, as one of the city's 26 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries -- is nothing new. Last summer, a mall billboard in San Mateo County pulled an ad for Green Cross less than 24 hours after it went up. Facebook denied pro-Proposition 19 ads, and BART last September abruptly rejected medical marijuana providers' ads after years of running them.

This, however, is a bit of a head-scratcher. Medithrive's booth seems rather tame: It consists of a photo of the dispensary's interior, "which looks like a spa," Rechif notes. It extols all the nice things medical cannabis does for San Francisco, not the least of which, he adds, is putting money back into schools and community centers. "It's just to change people's perception as to what cannabis clubs are like -- it's not a bunch of stoners getting the munchies, smoking bongs," he says.

By the way, if it was just about a bunch of stoners with the munchies, then it would certainly be a boon for a festival's overpriced churros and street food. Nevertheless, Medithrive is getting blackballed from these outdoor festivals, and not just on Union Street. The dispensary cannot set up shop at the Fillmore Street festival or the North Beach festival either, both of which are Restivo events.

Restivo did not respond to an e-mail sent by SF Weekly seeking comment. A representative from his PR firm did not respond to a telephone message and an e-mail.

According to Rechif, Restivo told Medithrive on the phone that SFPD and other festival clients had an issue with a medical marijuana booth. Rechif called shenanigans, saying the dispensary has a positive relationship with the cops and other festivals. That statement only caused Restivo to "blow up on me," Rechif says.

That was when Rechif delivered a pearl of a one-liner to Restivo via e-mail: "It would be my recommendation that you see a medical cannabis physician and consider our medication as an anxiety/stress reliever."

Medithrive's booth will be at Outside Lands and Up Your Alley later this summer, and at Haight Street festival in just a few weeks. That's all well and good, but that doesn't make up for the current diss on the dispensary.

"It's just surprising that in a city this progressive, with a focus on healthy living and alternative health care, there's still resistance to this," Rechif says. "We pay taxes, we contribute to the community, and just because one person has a reservation about it, we get a blanket denial. It's weird."

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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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