Medical marijuana vendor tries to put brakes on illegal deliveries in SF 

The owner of a legal medical cannabis delivery service is asking The City to crack down on the growing legion of unlicensed competitors horning in on his territory.

In a letter sent this week to members of the Board of Supervisors, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and District Attorney George Gascón, Kevin Reed — president of delivery service The Green Cross, which holds a city license and pays taxes — identifies 19 delivery services that claim to offer marijuana to San Francisco-based patients.

None of the 19 identified by Reed has registered for a city license to sell medical marijuana in San Francisco, according to the Department of Public Health.

“We believe the proliferation of so many unregulated delivery services that do not have to play by the rules is a slap in the face to our city,” wrote Reed, who also sits on The City’s Medical Cannabis Task Force.

Reed and other members of the task force want city leaders to enact legislation that would require anyone providing medical marijuana inside city limits to be regulated and pay taxes, or be shut down if they do not.

Under San Francisco’s 2005 Medical Cannabis Ordinance, anyone providing pot to 10 or more patients inside city limits must undergo a lengthy application process, which includes criminal background checks. Vendors must pay at least $8,656 to The City for a delivery-only permit, such as Reed’s, and show proof they are paying taxes to the state.

But many mobile pot sellers are apparently skirting those rules because those businesses are based outside The City. Public health officials say they cannot regulate out-of-town delivery services.

“The regulatory ordinance did not anticipate delivery-only businesses outside of The City,” Dr. Rajiv Bhatia of the Department of Public Health, which is tasked with regulating The City’s pot clubs, said in a statement. “It does not allow a level playing field.”

One of the out-of-town vendors cited by Reed is Northstone Organics of Ukiah, which advertises its services on the Web. Northstone Organics’ president, Matthew Cohen, said he has actually tried to run a legal business in San Francisco, but did not receive assistance from city officials.

Cohen said he has licenses from Mendocino County, which accounts for “every gram of medicine” grown and sold by his company. He said that unlike San Francisco, Oakland allows out-of-town businesses to obtain a special delivery-only license.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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