City departments will be asked to report on how the recently adopted Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) has impacted local cannabis laws, particularly in non-retail areas like cultivation and manufacturing, and what San Francisco needs to do to allow the existence of a well-regulated and successful medical cannabis industry
San Francisco — (May 3, 2016) Today Supervisor Scott Wiener will call for a hearing on the local impacts of the newly adopted state medical cannabis law, known as MMRSA — the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. This new law, which went into effect in late 2015, changes how the state regulates and oversees the medical cannabis industry, including what powers and procedures local jurisdictions must follow. In particular, this law will impact non-retail operations, like cultivation and manufacturing, in a way that requires changes to San Francisco’s local regulations. At the hearing, the Department of Public Health, the Planning Department, and the Department of Building Inspection will be asked to report.
“San Francisco has long been a leader in fostering a strong and well-regulated medical cannabis industry, but with the passage of this new state bill, we are in danger of falling behind,” said Supervisor Wiener. “If our current local laws aren’t amended, we will prevent many existing cultivation and manufacturing companies from continuing to operate. These businesses, which include small, local operators, need to have a fair regulatory system in which to operate.”
Passed in 2015, MMRSA put into place new requirements that change how the state regulates the medical cannabis industry. For example, the new state law requires that all cultivation sites and manufacturing sites have a valid local license or permit. Supervisor Wiener supports this need for licensing and permitting, but under San Francisco’s current local medical cannabis laws, the only cannabis industry business eligible for a permit are dispensaries. That means that any non-retail business must be associated with a dispensary, and therefore cannot lawfully operate on its own. Previous to MMSRA, City departments had created an administrative solution to address this issue, but under state law changes, this program will no longer be sufficient for these businesses to operate.
At the hearing, the Department of Public Health, the Planning Department, and the Department of Building Inspection will report on how we currently regulate medical cannabis businesses, how these regulations have been impacted by the passage of MMRSA, and what changes we need to make to allow these industries to continue to operate as part of San Francisco’s business community. Other impacts of MMRSA and need for policy changes will also be discussed. The city needs to act by 2018 to be in compliance with MMRSA.
Supervisor Wiener has been working at the Board of Supervisors to ensure San Francisco is enacting sound cannabis policies. This includes his legislation to form the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, which is tasked with planning local policies if cannabis is legalized in the 2016 California statewide election. The Task Force consists of representatives from City Departments, the cannabis industry and consumers, local businesses, tourism and policy groups, nightlife advocates, public health advocates, and neighborhood associations. The Task Force is currently convening monthly meetings.