Smoke and mirrors - Page 2

Pot clubs can't get a break: New rules would force many to close

"I won't be able to afford it."

Some MCDs unable to meet the new standards could apply to the Mayor's Office on Disability for waivers, giving Mayor Gavin Newsom — who has publicly said there should be fewer MCDs in town — more authority over medical marijuana. That arrangement would be a change from the procedure for other projects, which must submit waiver requests to the Access Appeals Commission, which is part of the Department of Building Inspection.

Kris Hermes of Oakland's Americans for Safe Access expressed his skepticism about the switch. "The main concern of the people is that the MOD will have the ultimate discretion," he told us. But Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, who sponsored the Medical Cannabis Act in 2005, seems to be supporting the Alioto-Pier legislation. "It's important that the MCDs are consistent with other health care facilities and businesses," he told us. "We want to do everything in our power to make this not so cost prohibitive."

No dispensaries have acquired a permit yet, although five now have "provisional permits." Many MCDs in the waiting line cite red tape and already stringent requirements as barring them from recognition as official businesses. Clubs must pay $6,691 for a permit and cannot generate "excessive profit" when in business.

"I don't know what we need to do next," said Lindsay, who paid ACT UP's fees six months ago. "The city's new to the process. We're new to the process. It's frustrating on both sides."

For Kevin Reed, owner of the Green Cross Dispensary, meeting the new standards would be a hard task to accomplish in the next six months. As he told us, "You'd pretty much have to knock down a building and rebuild it."*

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