Marijuana dispensary vote divides San Francisco Sunset residents

- The San Francisco Planning Department is expected to make a decision on whether to approve or deny a proposal to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the Sunset District.

The commission held a hearing on the issue late Thursday afternoon, where more than 100 people signed up to speak during public comment.

The medical cannabis dispensary proposed for development is called The Apothecarium, located at 2505 Noriega Street in the Sunset district. It would be run by Dr. Floyd Huen and his wife, former Oakland mayor Jean Quan. 

A group of anti-marijuana protesters gathered on the steps of city hall, hours before the vote to express their opposition. They feel a dispensary in the Sunset would attract crime and pose a risk to children.

“We know there are a lot of kids there, a lot of senior citizens there,” Jim Chow, a resident, said. “I don’t think this is fit for the neighborhood.”

But supporter Nick Lau said opponents are basing their opinions on stigma and fear.

“There needs to be education, especially in my community, about cannabis in general,” Lau said.

Lau has seen the positive impact medical marijuana has had on his grandmother.

“My grandma, she’s 80 years old,” he said. “She deals with chronic pain and lung cancer and for a long time she was prescribed opiates for pain.”

In a letter to the planning department, The Apothecarium stated, among other things, that they will have strict security protocols. They claim to have substantial support from residents across the city, and have collected more than 600 signatures in the Sunset in support of the dispensary.

A spokesman for The Apothecarium said they will not comment until the planning department approves or denies their request for a conditional use permit.

The decision could be appealed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

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