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(a) In 1996, the voters of California approved Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act, allowing persons in need of cannabis for specified medical purposes to obtain and use cannabis.
(b) In 2001, the City adopted Resolution No. 955-01, declaring San Francisco to be a “sanctuary for medical cannabis.” In 2005, the City enacted Ordinance No. 275-05, Health Code Article 33, known as the Medical Cannabis Act, which implemented a local regulatory scheme for Medical Cannabis Dispensaries operating in San Francisco.
(c) In 2006, the City enacted Ordinance No. 297-06, Administrative Code Chapter 96B, making cannabis offenses by adults the lowest law enforcement priority in San Francisco.
(d) On August 29, 2013, in response to the number of states seeking to legalize cannabis, the United States Department of Justice issued a memorandum known as the Cole Memo, outlining federal cannabis enforcement priorities and specifying that the federal government would continue to rely on states and local law enforcement agencies to address cannabis activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws.
(e) The federal law enforcement priorities articulated in the Cole Memo align with many of San Francisco’s priorities including: preventing the distribution of cannabis to minors; preventing cannabis sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels; preventing the diversion of cannabis from states where it is legal to other states; preventing state-authorized cannabis activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illicit drugs or activity; preventing violence and use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of cannabis; preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with cannabis use; preventing the cultivation of cannabis on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by cannabis production on public lands; and preventing cannabis possession or use on federal property.
(f) On October 9, 2015, Governor Brown signed into law the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (“MMRSA”), effective January 1, 2016, which established a comprehensive state licensing and regulatory framework for the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, transportation, dispensing, and delivery of medicinal cannabis, and which recognized the authority of local jurisdictions to prohibit or impose additional restrictions on commercial activities relating to medicinal cannabis. On June 27, 2016, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 837, which amended MMRSA and renamed it the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”).
(g) On November 8, 2016, the voters of California approved Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which legalized the nonmedicinal use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older, created a state regulatory, licensing, and taxation system for non-medicinal cannabis businesses, and reduced penalties for cannabis-related crimes. San Francisco voters approved Proposition 64 at a rate of 74.3%, compared to 57.1% in the state overall.
(h) On November 9, 2016, Mayor Lee issued Executive Directive 16-05, entitled “Implementing Prop 64: Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” directing the Directors of Planning and Public Health, in collaboration with the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force and other stakeholders, to lead the process of drafting the legislation required to fully and responsibly implement Proposition 64, including ordinances that address land use, local permitting, safety, and youth access.
(i) On June 27, 2017, Governor Brown signed into law the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), effective immediately, reconciling MCRSA and Proposition 64, unifying the adult-use and medicinal cannabis markets within the same regulatory regime, and making explicit the protection of the public to be the highest priority for all state licensing authorities in exercising their licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions under MAUCRSA. Under MAUCRSA, local jurisdictions may adopt and enforce ordinances to further regulate cannabis businesses, including zoning and permitting requirements and prohibitions on certain types of businesses.
(j) In 2015, the City enacted Ordinance No. 115-15, creating the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force (“the Task Force”) to advise the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, and other City departments on matters relating to the potential legalization of adult use cannabis. In December 2016, the Task Force submitted its Year I Report, and made recommendations related to Public Safety and Social Environment, Land Use and Social Justice, and Regulation and City Agency Framework for the City’s policymakers to consider.
(k) The Board of Supervisors intends to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework for medicinal cannabis and adult use cannabis. In furtherance of this goal, the Mayor’s FY2017-2018 budget, approved by the Board through its enactment of Ordinance No. 156-17, included appropriations for the establishment of an Office of Cannabis to coordinate with City departments and state agencies to develop policies and regulate the local cannabis industry to ensure that local public health, safety, and social justice goals are met. In addition, in July 2017, the City enacted Ordinance No. 168-17, Administrative Code Chapter 2A, Article XXVI, to establish an Office of Cannabis; to authorize the Director of the Office of Cannabis to issue permits to cannabis-related businesses; and to require the Director to collect permit application and annual license fees following the enactment of an ordinance establishing the amounts of those fees.
(l) In November 2017, the Office of Cannabis, the Office of the Controller, and the Human Rights Commission authored a Cannabis Equity Report, a copy of which is on file with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors in File No. 171042. Among other things, the Cannabis Equity Report acknowledged that the War on Drugs, which included racially disproportionate arrests and incarceration, had disastrous impacts in San Francisco, including generational poverty, community degradation, disruption of family structures, and the loss of educational and employment opportunities. The Cannabis Equity Report found that:
(1) African Americans and Latinos in San Francisco have endured disproportionately higher felony drug arrests than persons of other races.
(2) Recent efforts to decriminalize specific drug-related activities have helped to narrow those gaps, but people of color still interact with the justice system at a rate far higher than white people in San Francisco.
(3) Even at today’s much lower rates of arrest and conviction, large racial disparities persist. In 2016, African Americans in San Francisco experienced felony drug arrest rates 10 times higher than San Franciscans of other races, and 2.4 times higher than African Americans elsewhere in California.
(4) Currently, Latino youth are twice as likely as African Americans, five times more likely than whites, and nearly 10 times more likely than Asian Americans to be arrested for a drug felony in San Francisco.
(5) While Proposition 64 clears the way for people with a conviction history involving cannabis crimes to enter the cannabis industry, a past criminal history can still present significant challenges, such as accessing financing or signing a lease agreement.
(m) The Board of Supervisors is committed to ensuring that the perspectives of communities that have been historically and disproportionately affected by federal drug enforcement policies are included and considered in all cannabis policy decisions.
(n) The Board of Supervisors is committed to fostering equitable access to participation in the cannabis industry for San Francisco-based small businesses and individuals by promoting ownership and stable employment opportunities in the industry.
(o) Through this Article 16, the Board of Supervisors intends to develop a regulatory framework that: reduces the illegal market for cannabis; minimizes the chances of social harm by protecting and promoting the health of all San Franciscans; limits youth access and exposure to cannabis and cannabis products; ensures safe consumption; maintains the City’s progressive clean air policies for residents, businesses, and their employees; creates equitable access to opportunities within the cannabis industry; and creates jobs and tax revenue for the City.
(Added by Ord. 230-17, File No. 171042, App. 12/6/2017, Eff. 1/5/2018)