Individuals affected by the War on Drugs patiently wait for cannabis permits in San Francisco

Over 240 applications are currently in the review stage

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Hundreds of applicants keen to participate in the San Francisco cannabis equity program are being forced to wait in order to obtain a permit.

The applicants, all of whom have been impacted by the War on Drugs, must sit patiently while their applications are being reviewed by The Office of Cannabis.

San Francisco cannabis laws were amended in 2017

Last year, San Francisco cannabis regulations were tweaked as a demonstration of the city’s support for cannabis reform, which has spread across nine U.S. states thus far.

The city permitted medical cannabis dispensaries to temporarily convert their operations to retail, all the while making use of their outstanding medical permits prior to necessitating retail permits.

At the beginning of 2018, these establishments officially started trading cannabis in retail settings. Retail outlets were only given the chance to open their doors if they had applied for San Francisco’s cannabis equity program and had been affected by the racist War on Drugs.

Equity incubator permits are being granted by the City of San Francisco, as well as assistance with rent and support to help cannabis businesspeople succeed in the flourishing legal weed market.

Despite city efforts, new locations have not yet been approved

The stages of review in which applications persist is varied.

To this date, the Planning Department has not received any applications for San Francisco’s cannabis equity program from The Office of Cannabis. A repercussion of this is ongoing delays in the approval process.

Executive director of the SF Office of Cannabis, Nicole Elliott, blamed the delay in cannabis equity program applications to the obstacles associated with regulating a fresh industry. She also regarded the slump in the city’s approval process to the length of time in which it takes to assess each request.

Over 240 applications are currently in the review stage.

“There will most likely not be another time in The City’s history where one agency is moving this enormous number of existing operators and equity operators through a permitting process that is being developed from scratch and in real time,” Elliott wrote in an email.

“Moreover, as of right now, the Office of Cannabis is the sole agency tasked with ensuring that the Equity Program ownership requirements are being met, meaning the OOC is sifting through hundreds of pages of ownership agreements to be absolutely certain that the Equity Applicant is actually realizing the ownership interest that is required in order for an applicant entity to be eligible to move forward in the permitting process.”

San Francisco cannabis equity application timeframe extended

The City of San Francisco and the establishments located within it will now be authorized to process cannabis equity applications up until January of 2020.

“[I] would be happier if equity applicants had been approved and were up and running at this point,” Board President Malia Cohen told the San Francisco Examiner. “I remain committed to working with the Office of Cannabis to better understand what barriers persist in their approval process for equity applicants.”

Cohen had anticipated the Office of Cannabis would receive equity applications in January of this year. To her dismay, the applications were not ready until May.

Notwithstanding, discussions have surfaced regarding application prioritization from the Planning Department, which is rumored to start fast-tracking San Francisco cannabis equity program applications within 90-120 days.