San Francisco: Efforts Made to Expand Local Medical Cannabis Industry Cultivation, Permitting and Manufacturing
- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On November 5, 2016
- cannabis, Cannabis Permit, cultivation, manufacturing, MCRSA, Medical Marijuana, regulation, zoning ordinance
At the behest of San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, the Land Use and Transportation Committee met on July 11, 2016 to discuss how the city will adapt to California’s newly enacted Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”), a compilation of recently enacted AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643. MCRSA’s extensive licensing requirements mean that San Francisco’s legislators must decide whether to allow or prohibit medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing businesses within the city.
Under the city’s current laws, the only type of permit available to medical marijuana businesses is the Medical Cannabis Dispensary (“MCD”) permit issued by the Department of Public Health. If San Francisco decides to issue licenses for medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing–which is likely given the city’s progressive medical marijuana policies–local legislators will be tasked with determining how much cannabis can be grown, and where.
Aaron Starr, the manager of legislative affairs in the city’s Planning Department, has recommended modifying certain agricultural use and manufacturing use definitions in the planning code to explicitly permit or prohibit medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in specified zones within the city.
Cyndy Comerford, who spoke on behalf of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, stated that the new state regulations will allow local governments to impose taxation on licensed cultivation and manufacturing businesses, which are now permitted to operate on a for-profit basis. An appropriate tax structure has yet to be determined.
Changes to San Francisco’s zoning laws will be necessary to allow the city’s growing medical marijuana industry to expand. Currently, the majority of San Francisco’s MCDs are clustered in the “Green Zone” due to strict zoning ordinances. If the city plans to encourage new marijuana businesses, such as cultivation and manufacturing, the zoning laws will have to be relaxed so that businesses can operate in other parts of the city. Although no definitive decisions have been made yet, San Francisco is working toward establishing local regulations that will align with the new state law and expand opportunities for local medical cannabis industries.
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