Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, February 13, 2014

SF's Medical Marijuana Program Is a Boring Success

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 9:25 AM

  • Next

The evening rush hour was still in full swing on a recent weeknight at Church and Market streets. Well-dressed would-be diners crowded the doorway of a seafood restaurant, waiting for a table, while shoppers carrying Whole Foods bags competed for space on a cramped sidewalk with commuters heading home.

And in the middle of it all, right at the intersection, a store that California police say is a crime magnet and an eyesore was barely noticed at all. The only thing identifying it as a pot club was the tell-tale smell and the steady crush of customers there to buy weed.

That's the funny thing about legal weed -- it's not exciting, there's no drama -- as the city's annual report on its dispensary program reveals.

The city has 24 weed storefronts in business, according to the Department of Public Health. And these 24 dispensaries only generated 10 citizen complaints last year. Most of them -- such as a police investigation into a cannabis brownie -- were total nonsense.

Since 2006, San Francisco doled out city Department of Public Health permits to medical cannabis dispensaries, which are then obligated to annual inspections.

DPH staffers are also assigned to respond to citizen complaints about what goes on at weed stores. And, according to records, since 2006 there have been exactly 37 complaints filed at DPH.

Even that number is misleading; 2013 was a big year for lamenting about weed, with 16 complaints lodged against marijuana, and of those, only 10 were filed against actual DPH-licensed dispensaries (one was filed against a grow-house, and five were filed against a weed-focused community center for rats and cockroaches).

In other words, there's not a lot for a weed store inspector to do (which is why the DPH staffers assigned to the weed program also have other things to inspect).

San Francisco has had about two dozen dispensaries for a few years now. Since 2011, eight have closed down due to federal Justice Department pressure or, in the case of 208 Valencia, a massive structure fire.

And the ones that are remaining don't make a lot of noise. Of the 10 complaints filed against pot clubs, most were for smoking onsite or for double-parking, though there were some exceptions.

San Francisco police went as far as to send a pot brownie bought at a Mission District dispensary to the crime lab for testing, according to DPH. Someone had reported that it contained Vicodin.

The brownie was tested, and came back positive -- for weed. No Vicodin was found.

That was in February. In September, a complaint was filed against the Green Cross on Mission Street. The dispensary had an illuminated sign, which was dutifully turned off.

Somewhat annoyingly, crimes connected to dispensaries aren't also included on the annual report. In August, there were a few: Purple Star Collective in the Mission District was robbed by three men in what people connected to the store described as a scary, takeover-style robbery, and famous rapper 2 Chainz was famously robbed at gunpoint outside the Green Door on Howard Street.

So: two crimes (that we know of), a pot brownie investigated thoroughly, and a sign doused. Legal weed, people -- it's boring.

  • Pin It

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.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"