On January 1st, California will officially legalize recreational marijuana and people from around the state will be able to purchase cannabis products freely. Unless you live in San Francisco, in which case you might have to wait a little longer.
City officials in San Francisco say they won't allow recreational marijuana sales in the city until regulations are passed. They also want to create an equity program that allows low-income entrepreneurs, people of color and former drug offenders to take part in the industry. According to a city supervisor, San Francisco officials "still have no idea what that program will look like or how it will operate."
Creating an equity program the way San Francisco wants is incredibly difficult. The city of Oakland passed California's first cannabis equity program in March, but it took over a year and several fights amongst city officials to hammer out the details. In July, San Francisco officials asked the city controller and the Office of Cannabis to submit a proposed equity program by November 1st. The city also passed a 45 day moratorium on dispensary permits earlier this month, saying they needed to hold off until the equity program is instituted.
City officials have also proposed new regulations for starting dispensaries, such as keeping a distance of at least 600 feet from any schools and 300 feet from another marijuana business. Those regulations will only apply to new dispensaries, not existing ones. The city is also going to require all dispensaries to continue selling medical marijuana as well as recreational.
Officials seem pessimistic about the chances for all these regulations to be hammered out by the new year. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to apply for a temporary license for 120 days on January 1st to stay in business while they figure all of it out.
On the bright side, people from San Francisco can pretty much go to any other city in the entire state and purchase marijuana recreationally on January 1st, so it may not be that big of deal. Just a bit of a nuisance.