A plan to open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco's Sunset District -- put forth by former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and her husband, Floyd Huen -- faces fierce opposition. Opponents filed an appeal with San Francisco's Planning Commission yesterday.
They argue that the dispensary would violate California law because it would be less than 600 feet from a preschool.
“We are hopeful the city of San Francisco will choose to do what's right legally and principally,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “If they don't, then we believe at the end of the day they'll be forced to in a court of law.”
Apothecarium, the medical marijuana company partnering with Quan and her huband, argues that the state law doesn’t go into effect until January. They also say San Francisco can set up its own marijuana laws later this year that could make the dispensary’s location legal.
“Pacific Justice Institute has repeatedly been wrong about the law,” said Apothecarium spokesman Eliot Dobris. “They have made false argument after false argument and this is another one.”
Located at Noriega Street and 32nd Avenue, the dispensary would cater to the largely Asian-American population in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. Around 3,900 people who live in the neighborhood travel to a dispensary in the Castro, according to the Apothecarium, a medical marijuana company partnering with Quan and Huen to open the dispensary.
Sunset resident Nick Lau, whose grandmother uses medical marijuana for chronic pain, said the dispensary -- approved by a 5-1 vote by San Francisco's Planning Commission on July 13 -- is sorely needed in his neighborhood.
“Someone like my grandma or her caregiver shouldn’t have to travel across the city to access this medicine,” Lau said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have it in our own neighborhood.”
Huen will provide bilingual service in Cantonese and English to the large Chinese-American population in the Outer Sunset, something Lau said is greatly needed. The Apothecarium says it received 660 letters of support from Sunset District residents.
But the dispensary faces fierce opposition from anti-marijuana groups, who said they’re concerned about the dispensary’s proximity to a preschool and several churches. The Coalition Against Legalization of Marijuana held a rally outside City Hall before Quan and Huen’s hearing two weeks ago.
“Children come first,” said coalition member Teresa Duque. “We don’t want any marijuana in the children’s playground.”
Hundreds lined up to speak against the dispensary at the July 13 hearing.
The coalition also announced a petition for the federal government to start enforcing federal drug laws in California.
“We want them to take actions right now because marijuana has already caused huge problems in various aspects,” said coalition member Frank Lee. “With your signature, our voices are stronger and our society will be better protected.”
Quan and Huen’s support of medical marijuana stretches back years. In 2004, Quan authored legislation that allowed Oakland to be the first California city to issue a permit for a dispensary.
Huen is an internal medicine doctor and has been prescribing marijuana for patients with chronic pain for years.
This post has been updated to reflect the recent repeal filed by groups opposed to the medical marijuana dispensary.