San Francisco pot dispensaries win reprieve. Still ok to purchase Weed

The stay in place Order is tough to handle.  But forcing pot dispensaries from selling their product was one toke over the line too many.

San Francisco City Hall decided to keep the dispensaries open for the locals who need a little help in weathering the trauma of Covid-19.

It keeps a segment of the population working and brings in lots of tax revenue. San Francisco needs it.

San Francisco Chronicle 3.18.2020

Long lines were reported at cannabis stores in San Francisco and the East Bay because of the shelter-in-place orders.

San Francisco officials are allowing cannabis businesses to remain open while many other stores are shut down over the next three weeks as the city goes to extreme lengths to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

City officials originally told cannabis stores they had to close on Tuesday because of the city’s order one day earlier to close nonessential businesses and have residents stay at home as much as possible. But then the San Francisco Department of Health sent a tweet calling cannabis “an essential medicine for many San Francisco residents.”

“Dispensaries can continue to operate as essential businesses during this time, while practicing social distancing and other public health recommendations,” the department said in its tweet.

The initial directive had frustrated businesses and advocates who want cannabis to remain available, especially for medical patients, while residents in San Francisco and other Bay Area counties shelter in place until April 7.

SF Cannabis II 3.18.20.jpg

Restaurants were allowed to offer delivery and takeout, but the same was not true for San Francisco’s cannabis businesses at first. An email sent Tuesday afternoon by the city cannabis office and public health department said businesses should be closed Tuesday but signaled that changes could come soon.

In the meantime, some of the city’s most visible cannabis operations were temporarily shuttered.

“For now we are completely closed,” said Eliot Dobris, a spokesman for the Apothecarium dispensary, which has three locations in San Francisco. “We have raised the issue of access for medical patients and are in ongoing discussions with the city. Many of our guests with true medical needs have not bothered to get medical cards over the last couple of years, since recreational use became legal.”

Others that stayed open in San Francisco and other parts of the region forced customers to separate themselves as mandated by the health orders. Harborside’s Oakland dispensary said Tuesday on Twitter that it had “limited in-store capacity for social distancing.”

SF Cannabis I 3.18.20.jpg

Eaze spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the company was hoping the city order would change to allow for cannabis deliveries.

“We think it’s essential and helpful,” Ashford said. “Delivery helps people stay home.”

In their email Tuesday afternoon, the San Francisco Office of Cannabis and Department of Public Health thanked permitted cannabis businesses for respecting the city’s directions.

“The situation is fluid, and we are working closely with city partners and health-care professionals to craft a strategy that will allow for access to healthy and safe product,” the departments said in their email. “We are hopeful that this will create a pathway for businesses to support those that need access. Please standby.”

Troy Brunet, a medical cannabis patient for 10 years, said he makes a purchase every two or three days. He said he lives on a fixed income and can’t afford to stockpile. Brunet, a San Francisco resident, said he is HIV positive and uses cannabis to treat nausea.

“I was able to purchase two cartridges … that will hold me five or six days — let’s hope,” Brunet said. “I’ll have to stretch everything to the limit and pray for the rest. My nausea is going to be unbelievably frustrating.”

Dobris, the Apothecarium spokesman, said Monday that the company had added numerous precautions to protect customers and staff.

“We have hand sanitizer stations prominently set up, and team members have been reassigned to clean and disinfect continuously — including counters, door handles, tabletops, ordering kiosks and ATMs.” Apothecarium staff were also asking customers to maintain social distance inside their stores and not allowing them to touch samples or sniffer jars.