If tracked, medical marijuana growers in SF fear feds, thugs could obtain addresses 

San Francisco officials want to keep a record of all suppliers of medical marijuana dispensaries, an idea that has some members of the pot community fuming.

“If there is a list, it’s available to the public, and it’s available to the feds,” said Kevin Reed, a member of The City’s Medical Cannabis Task Force and owner of the Green Cross, a medical cannabis delivery service.

Reed said most members of cannabis collectives and cooperatives grow small amounts of pot in their homes, warning that a city record of their names and addresses could be accessible by anyone — including federal law enforcement officials or criminals who rob grow operations.

Despite statements by the Obama administration that it would not go after medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state laws, cannabis supporters say such raids have continued, and Reed remained wary about a public record of growers.

“It just goes against everything that we’re doing,” Reed said. “What we do is federally illegal. As long as The City is offering patients no protection, it’s just absurd.”

According to a written statement from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, officials announced at a May 20 task force meeting that they “anticipated maintaining a record of all sources/cultivators for each [dispensary].”

Public health officials would only answer questions about this proposal in writing, and a spokeswoman did not respond to a question about whether the list would be publicly available.

The statement noted that the department, which issues permits for medical cannabis dispensaries, is tasked with ensuring that the cannabis such dispensaries cultivate and distribute is in compliance with state and local laws.

There currently are 26 permitted dispensaries in The City, and nine more have applied for permits.

Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, the director of environmental health, said such dispensaries get their products from “diverse sources” and that the department needs to ensure those sources are legal. California law requires that marijuana distributed by medical cannabis collectives or co-operatives be cultivated only by their members, and not for profit.

“Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of cultivation in many San Francisco neighborhoods,” Bhatia said. Some of these sites violate city planning and building codes, and create fire or hazardous materials dangers, according to his statement.

“The department’s overarching aim is to steer [medical cannabis dispensary] practices towards conformity with California and San Francisco law,” Bhatia said. “In this way, we reduced the likelihood for MCDs of community concerns and criminal prosecution.”

The idea is apparently just in its formative stages, however, and no decision has been made.
“We are open to alternative ways to ensure the safety and legality of cultivation,” Bhatia said. “We will be discussing this with the dispensary community.”

Community activist and task force member Stephanie Tucker called a public list “a deal-breaker.”

“DPH historically has always been very good at protecting safe access, and balancing that with public safety,” Tucker said. “Obviously, as a community, we have concerns about that information becoming public.

“We need to find a solution, a happy medium.”

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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