Anti-marijuana groups say dispensaries aren't being vetted properly

Leaders from several anti-marijuana groups say the city of San Francisco is letting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries slide through without proper vetting.

They say the Planning Department recently approved the applications for two such outlets within 1000 feet of children facilities. One future dispensary is located at 3015 San Bruno Avenue, the other at 2442 Bayshore Boulevard.

"We have seen the impact on children who have eaten cookies, brownies, candy that has marijuana," said Brad Dacus, the founder of the Pacific Justice Institute. Dacus said the law states that the medical dispensaries cannot be within 1000 feet of where children congregate.

"We're not asking for new legislation," said Dacus. "We're just asking for the law, the part of the law that respects the rights of children and communities.... to protect children to be respected."

Another dispensary is currently being proposed at 2505 Noriega Street by Dr. Floyd Huen, a medical advisor for the Apothecarium which is located on Market Street. Dr. Huen's wife is former mayor of Oakland Jean Quan.

"I think it's, uh, it's not the right place for it. Ok, well if [Quan] want[s] to open it she can open it in right over in her front door not over there," said Stuart Toy, a longtime Sunset District resident, as he pointed toward Oakland.

About 250 feet away from Huen and Quan's proposed dispensary, is a Lutheran church which has a Sunday school for children. The thousand-foot protection rule only applies to day care centers that are part of the San Francisco Unified School District. Opponents of the dispensary are fuming.

"Everybody is against it , we don't want anything to do with any drugs!" said Toy.

But Dr. Huen said that prescribing marijuana has enabled him to ween patients off opiates.

"That's one of the most gratifying things you can hear as a doctor when you're really concerned about too much Vicodin, too much Norco, too much oxycodone, and you want to stop [the pain]," said Dr. Huen. "You have to have something to give them instead."

Eliot Dobris is the head of Community Outreach for the Apothecarium, which looks more like a high-end spa than a medical marijuana dispensary.

"It's a lie to suggest that dispensaries are a danger to children. There have been no significant issues for the past 25 years," said Dobris, who said the Pacific Justice Institute has been called an LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is running an unfounded smear campaign.

"They are using the same fear mongering tactics they used against the gay community but now against medical cannabis patients, " said Dobris.

Dacus fired back saying, "We should have the opportunity to respect both the left and the right's ability to express their opinion without vilifying, isolating and silencing them in the process."