Pot-friendly San Francisco riled by rules for legal marijuana

Famously pro-cannabis San Francisco, where the 4/20 marijuana holiday is celebrated with a group smoke-out on Hippie Hill, is having a surprisingly difficult time establishing regulations for the broad legal pot market coming to California in January.

Writing local rules in the weed-friendly city has taken a contentious turn as critics, many of them older Chinese immigrants who oppose marijuana use, try to restrict where pot can be sold.

Divided San Francisco supervisors are scheduled to take up the issue at a board meeting Tuesday, where they may vote on a stop-gap measure to allow the sale of recreational cannabis through existing medical marijuana outlets on Jan. 1 as they continue to figure out where to allow new stores.

The possibility of overly strict regulations has businesses fretting over access and some San Franciscans wondering what happened to the counter-culture, anti-Prohibition city they know and love. The smell of cannabis being smoked is not uncommon in certain neighborhoods and parks.

“Let’s be honest: Cannabis is effectively legal now and the sky hasn’t fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who uses medical marijuana to mitigate pain from older HIV medications.

He and others are calling for keeping recreational retail pot stores 600 feet (183 meters) away from schools, comparable to the radius required of stores that sell liquor or tobacco. Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to be at least 1,000 feet (305 meters) away from schools and recreation centers that primarily serve minors.

But some Chinese-American organizations have pushed back, calling for an outright prohibition on retail stores in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They want future retail stores to be at least 1,500 feet (460 meters) away from schools, child-care centers and any other place minors gather. Supervisors are considering a 1,000-foot (305-meter) buffer that cannabis advocates say is too…

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