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Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
Pot clinics growing like weeds
    #3941965 - 03/19/05 11:59 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Pot clinics just keep growing.
Third dispensary planned for same street in S.F.'s Ingleside district

March 20, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle

In San Francisco, the legalized dope business is booming all over town.

Among the latest crop of "medical marijuana" dispensaries popping up:

-- The Happy Days Herbal Relief Center -- which is run by a former crack addict and ex-con.

-- The Holistic Center, which is set to have its grand opening this week on the ground floor of a city-backed welfare hotel that houses a number of recovering drug addicts.

-- And a new pot club planned for 1945 Ocean Ave. out in the working-class Ingleside -- just across the street from a competing dope dispensary.

It's the third pot club on the street -- all within four blocks of each other.

And many of the neighbors aren't happy.

"There are 44 McDonald's in all of Manhattan -- more than any location in the world -- and we have 37 marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco,'' fumes Dogpatch Neighborhood Association President Susan Eslick, who just learned of plans for a new dope dealership down the street from her, at the corner of Third and 20th streets.

"If these are for health,'' Eslick added, "then we must have a huge epidemic.''

From what we're told, much of the surge can be traced to Oakland's decision to put a moratorium on clubs.

"They're all here because Jerry Brown threw them out of Oakland,'' police Capt. Tim Hettrich says bluntly.

Indeed, when the Oakland City Council capped the number of clubs last year at four -- putting most of the city's dozen or so unregulated pot joints out of business -- the activity surged on the west side of the bay. Not only has there been a doubling of new clubs in the past 18 months, police say, but the number of "patients'' requesting medical marijuana ID cards has nearly tripled, to 7,000.

The San Francisco boom has its roots in state voters' 1996 passage of Proposition 215, legalizing marijuana use for medical reasons.

With that, a whole new cottage industry was born, even though weed, medicinal or otherwise, is still illegal under federal law. Today there are 126 clubs and support groups throughout the state, serving an estimated 100,000 medical marijuana users.

And with no legal source for marijuana, some clubs are charging the street rate, which is anywhere from $300 to $500 an ounce.

It's become an entrepreneur's dream.

One such dreamer is 40-year-old Jeff Hunter, a former crack addict who spent seven years in San Quentin State Prison for cocaine trafficking. He got out in 1999, and now operates the Happy Days Herbal Relief Center.

Hunter -- who is still on probation -- said the new marijuana enterprise "has turned my life around.''

"I was having a midlife crisis and was looking for other ways to make money legally,'' Hunter said.

"I make a pretty good income, I'd have to say,'' Hunter said, though he declined to specify just how much. Whatever the amount, it's probably more than he made in his last job, driving a bread truck.

On the afternoon we visited Happy Days at 607 Divisadero St., business was brisk -- with a stream of young and streetwise-looking customers showing up to buy or sample the goods.

On the wall hung a large menu, featuring "G. Purple'' for $20 a gram and hash for $35 a gram -- along with an assortment of medicine-laced goodies, including giant brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

While it might look like a party scene, Hunter insists that "100 percent'' of his clients are legitimate medical marijuana users.

We should also point out that Hunter has some friends in high places.

He's currently part of a discrimination suit against his former bread-driving boss, Sara Lee Corp., and is being represented by none other than San Francisco Police Commissioner Joe Veronese and Veronese's mom, ex-Supervisor Angela Alioto.

And while Hunter insists he's been welcomed into his new neighborhood, not all owners are getting the same reception.

Officials are already taking a close look at the new Holistic Center going into the Mission District's All-Star Hotel, mostly out of concern for those neighbors upstairs who are trying to break their addictions. The hotel is among a dozen that serve welfare tenants under Mayor Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash program.

Meanwhile, folks out in the Ingleside have circulated a letter, addressed to Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Gerardo Sandoval, protesting the proposed opening of the latest club in their district.

The problem for neighbors is that the Ocean Avenue clubs are all within a mile of eight schools -- including City College, two high schools and a middle school.

Police confirm the clubs are a real magnet for kids -- especially with all the bus service along Ocean Avenue.

According to Hettrich, it's not uncommon for one kid with a card to purchase an ounce or so of weed -- then turn around and sell enough of it to his friends to support his own habit.

More people die each year (430,000 people a year) due to tobacco use than AIDS, homicide, heroin, and drug addiction combined.

Edited by veggie (03/21/05 12:45 PM)

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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 2,176
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Re: Pot clinics grow like a weed [Re: veggie]
    #3946106 - 03/20/05 09:56 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)


If these are for health,'' Eslick added, "then we must have a huge epidemic.''


"To get what you've never had, You must do what you've never done."

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Registered: 12/18/02
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Re: Pot clinics growing like weeds [Re: veggie]
    #3949903 - 03/21/05 06:22 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)


-- The Happy Days Herbal Relief Center -- which is run by a former crack addict and ex-con.

How is giving someone a legal and legit career, and reforming his criminal ways a bad thing?


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Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
Re: Pot clinics growing like weeds [Re: veggie]
    #3950997 - 03/21/05 10:50 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Newsom declares moratorium on medical marijuana clubs
March 21, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called for a moratorium today on medical marijuana clubs in the city after learning that one such clinic planned to open on the ground floor of a city-funded welfare hotel that is home to a number of recovering drug addicts.

"That obviously raised some concern, not just from the community, not just from our Departments of Human Services, but from the residents within the building themselves, who appropriately said, 'Hey, I'm just trying to get away from drugs and alcohol and here you have a pot club downstairs,' " Newsom said.

"It was at that moment that our office started looking at a way we could amend all of our contracts with the Department of Human Services to restrict the ability to purchase ... units under the Care Not Cash program and restrict the use of medicinal marijuana clubs in those facilities."

The pot club that grabbed Newsom's attention was the Holistic Center, which plans to open this week on the ground floor of the All-Star Hotel in the Mission District. The hotel is among a dozen that serve welfare tenants under Newsom's Care Not Cash program.

Since state voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, San Francisco has become home to more than 30 percent of the state's 125-plus dispensaries, Newsom said. However, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how many such clinics operate in the city, he said, because they are not regulated.

There are no legal requirements in San Francisco to show an identification card when purchasing marijuana, no licensing or permitting necessary for clubs, and no restrictions on prices or client age.

"We have frankly -- let me be straight and honest -- been lax on this," Newsom said. "I will take personal criticism to the extent that I am the mayor of San Francisco, that I have not been diligent, and nor has the elected family been diligent, in the oversight.

"I believe in the core of my cores that medicinal marijuana is appropriate and right," Newsom said. "That being said, I also think there needs to be some common sense and grounding as it relates to the proliferation of these clubs in San Francisco."

"We're on a path -- this is hyperbole -- but we are conceivably walking down a path that would allow for a club on every street corner in San Francisco," Newsom said.

He pointed to other California municipalities that have regulated the clinics, including Oakland, which recently capped the number of medical marijuana clinics at four.

"What may be appropriate for Oakland may not be appropriate for San Francisco, but clearly there's some precedent," Newsom said.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier plans to introduce an emergency ordinance for a moratorium at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that could be passed as early as next week. It will require approval from nine of the 11 supervisors for passage.

Board President Aaron Peskin said that he would support the mayor's initiative.

"It seems reasonable," he said. "Right now, it is the only manner of land use that's not regulated. It's not a matter of, are you for or against them. They should be subject to the same rules we use for everything from restaurants to adult theaters."

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