by Juliana Severe
Despite recent crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries, the South of Market district continues to host many of the city’s cannabis clubs. Its prevalent industrial and non-residential location has many applicants choosing to operate in the SoMa over other districts. In April city officials began questioning whether to permit more approvals in the district due to its current concentration of dispensaries.
Of the 22 legally operating dispensaries in San Francisco,12 of them reside in the SoMa. It has become a sanctuary for merchants because of its location surrounded by office buildings, warehouses, and nightlife. Because of the limited amount of youth organization in the area it is easy for merchants to sell within the permitted zoning of 1,000 feet from schools and recreation centers.
What does lie heavily in the SoMa is its crime and homelessness. It is one of Mayor Ed Lee’s top priorities in the city’s handling. Lee officials don’t see the presence of more dispensaries as a significant part to help restore the district. Residents and officials have begun voicing concern that permitting another cannabis business does nothing to help the already drug affiliated neighborhood.
Statistics from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health show part of the decline in support of legalizing marijuana has derived from the lack of regulations enforced to ensure that patients are not just smoking marijuana for recreational use. This notion subjects medicinal marijuana patients to be seen as fakers,which associates them as drug users and abusers.
“There are so many clubs around the area already so I get why they don’t want more, but to blame the crime on weed is just stupid,” said Tony M., medicinal card holder and resident on 1st Street.
Susan Christian, assistant attorney general for San Francisco, lead a special hearing on Apr.12 by the city of San Francisco and the Human Rights Commission. The focus of the meeting was the failure of the Federal war on drugs and the effects from it that are hitting low income and crime afflicted demographics such as the SoMa.
“Tonight we are not going to take up the question of whether drugs and narcotics should be illegal or criminalized, what we want to look at tonight is the effect of the criminalization and the same issues that have been placed on narcotics use and abuse,” said Christian.
Guest speakers such as Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP, and Novella Coleman, criminal justice and drug policy fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union, urged San Francisco commissioners to continue to acknowledge the depletion of human rights given to those affected by drug use and abuse.
Huffman stressed that the Federal government’s concentration of convicting high level drug dealers and legalizing marijuana is pushing aside those in need of help and who are lacking resources. Although Huffman claimed to have never used illegal, substances she still believes a person has the choice to decide what they can and can’t have. “Eventually this right that people have is something this country is going to have to comes to term with,” said Huffman.If they are ridden with addiction or abuse there are few government outlets to help better them.The attention of drugs in the SoMa neighborhood has been directed toward the number of dispensaries, but the problem is still active on the on the street and will continue to be unless there is a change in policy.
“They found out that during the alcohol prohibition that they couldn’t tell an adult what to do with their body and they finally gave up on it.Now we are having with the use of marijuana and narcotics,” said Huffman.