San Francisco is having a surprisingly difficult time establishing regulations for the broad legal pot market, thanks in part to criticism from older Chinese immigrants who oppose marijuana use.
Divided San Francisco supervisors are scheduled to take up the issue at a board meeting Tuesday, where they may vote on a stop-gap measure to allow the sale of recreational cannabis through existing medical marijuana outlets on Jan. 1 as they continue to figure out where to allow new stores.
The possibility of overly strict regulations has businesses fretting over access and some San Franciscans wondering what happened to the counter-culture, anti-Prohibition city they know and love. The smell of cannabis being smoked is not uncommon in certain neighborhoods and parks.
“Let’s be honest: Cannabis is effectively legal now, and the sky hasn’t fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who uses medical marijuana to mitigate pain from older HIV medications.
He and others are calling for keeping recreational retail pot stores 600 feet away from schools, comparable to the radius required of stores that sell liquor or tobacco. Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools and recreation centers that serve primarily minors.
But some Chinese American organizations have pushed back, calling for an outright prohibition on retail stores in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They want future retail stores to be at least 1,500 feet away from schools, child-care centers and any other place minors gather. Supervisors are considering a 1,000-foot buffer that cannabis advocates say is too restrictive for a city as compact as San Francisco.
Ellen Lee, a family social worker at the nonprofit San Francisco Community Empowerment Center, which has helped lead the protests, said most of the people opposed to recreational cannabis are elderly and