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Marina District can finally see legal marijuana


How long can the wealthiest area in San Francisco live without a legal seller of medicinal cannabis?

When you walked into the current location of The Apothecarium at the intersection of church and market this week, you received a flyer asking if you’re available to “speak briefly before the SF Planning Commission on Thursday, October 22.”

The Pharmacy’s application to open a second location at 2414 Lombard, in the heart of San Francisco’s wealthiest supervisory district, has been filed today. And the pharmacy needs help.

It would be brand new territory for retail marijuana, which is struggling to gain ground in San Francisco north of Market Street and west of Twin Peaks. Currently there are only three storefronts open for business north of the slot, and all of them are quite a long walk uphill from your typical weekend camaraderie in Frat Mason.

Most pharmacies are still located in District 6, the district with both the highest number of on-site pharmacies and the lowest median income in the city.

That’s not to say you can’t get medical cannabis in Pacific Heights. There are plenty of delivery options nearby, a point made by opponents of The Apothecarium’s plans.

What you can’t get is the personal consultation and support services offered by the nonprofit, which has done a lot to position itself as both a high-end boutique shopping experience and a model member of the community.

In addition, since almost every delivery service is unlicensed, the only options are unregulated. (Think Uber, but for weed and even less regulated).

The application features numerous artistic renderings of fashionable, smiling white people nestled in natural wood interiors with no mention of the marijuana trade in the tasteful, discreet signage. All this in addition to a positive quote from Senator Mark Leno and a photo of District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner hugging the founders on the occasion of “The Apothecarium Day,” proclaimed by the city earlier this month.

Opposition comes mainly from the Cow Hollow Association and the Golden Gate Valley Neighborhood Association, which cite the proximity of a high-risk youth residence operated by Larkin Street Youth Services as a deal breaker. The vote of the board of the Marina Community Association was divided on the issue and remains neutral at this time.

The Cow Hollow Association (which was also against the Edward II) also shouted in its opposition letter that The Pharmacy bought the building with the intention of opening a pharmacy and only then the organization’s donation to Larkin Street Youth Services doubled.

“Please give Edward II’s at-risk youth some breathing room in their struggle to get their lives back on track. Demand that the owner of this proposed MCD find a more suitable location for the company,” Robert Bardell, president of Golden Gate Valleny Neighbors, wrote in the association’s opposition letter. Cow Hollow President Lori Brooke, for her part, helpfully added a map.

Attempts by the Green Cross to open a pharmacy near Fisherman’s Wharf failed in 2007, The Hemp Center in The Richmond is still only being delivered pending permit approval, and The Divinity Tree Wellness Center was awarded in 2014 no new permit as it attempted to reopen at its previous location in the Tenderloin after hours when their landlord was threatened with criminal charges and property confiscation by the United States Attorney in 2011.

The Pharmacy has tackled the process very thoroughly. As the planning department noted in its recommendation to the planning committee for conditional approval. Owner and sponsor Ryan Hudson and his team seem to have ticked every box from notification and community involvement to complying with all relevant zoning and obligations since they decided to move to the neighborhood. But maybe that’s enough.

The Commission will decide the issue as the last item on the agenda at a public hearing on Thursday evening at City Hall. If the permit is approved, opponents would have 30 days to appeal to the Appeals Chamber, which rejected a permit for a pharmacy on Taraval, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court.



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