SAN FRANCISCO - Former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and her husband plan on opening a new medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco.
The couple wants to open it at 32nd and Noriega in the city's Sunset neighborhood. They say they chose that location because the Chinese community there is underserved.
However, opposition to the dispensary is coming from the very community they are looking to serve.
The site is an empty storefront that used to be a pharmacy, but neighbors say it's an inappropriate location.
Quan and her husband, Dr. Floyd Huen plan to open an apothecarium.
"Our community, the Chinese community doesn't have access to it right now," said Huen a gerontologist.
Quan and Huen would model the dispensary and access to it after the Apothecarium in the Castro. Huen says it will be professionally operated in a safe environment. Huen says he sees many elderly Chinese women who suffer debilitating pain and that marijuana is an alternative to prescription painkillers.
"We need to have a facility that's bilingual bi-cultural," said Huen.
But a raucous audience greeted Huen last Thursday when he was invited by a neighborhood group to present his plans. Opponents shouted him down.
"If Jean Quan wants to open one [medical marijuana dispensary] then go back to Oakland," said Cindy, a resident who did not give her last name.
"Having marijuana in this compact neighborhood is not suitable. We have elderly children, preschool churches, people who shop and work in this area," said neighbor Wendy Wong.
Huen says the opponents are vocal, but in the minority. Supporters of the dispensary point to election results from last November when Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana, passed with 58 percent of the vote in the Sunset and in 1996, Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana passed by 66 percent of the vote in the same neighborhood.
"Since then, I've been prescribing it to my patients, many who have chronic disabling illness," Huen said.
Neighbors say a cannabis dispensary will invite crime into the area.
"I'm afraid there will be robberies, violence on the streets. My view is no, no. Do not open an operation in this neighborhood," said Cindy.
"For people not to have access because of some unfounded fear is crazy," Huen retorted.
Huen said 3,000 of the 65,000 patients who buy cannabis from the Apothecarium in the Castro come from the Sunset District.
Quan and her husband say they don't want to open a dispensary in Oakland because it is a potential conflict of interest.
The dispensary would have to show it would benefit the community. If approved, it would open by next year.