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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
11 Mar 2023

NextImg:San Francisco Planning Commission Finds Near-School Office ‘A Very Good Location’ for Marijuana Dispensary

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved a marijuana dispensary/smoking spot close to John Yehall Chin Elementary School in a meeting on March 9, despite objections from community members.

Vice president of the commission Kathrin Moore concluded it “is actually a very good location.”

The suggested marijuana dispensary is a vacant two-story office building located at 100 Broadway, just at the edge of Chinatown. If approved, it will become a 3,500-square-foot marijuana center, including a smoking area and storage.

“As much as it has been a difficult issue for me not to listen and clearly take into consideration the voice of the community, I would share … as my commissioners do, that this is actually a very good location,” Moore said after nearly four hours of public comments.

“I think you should be actually in a way comfortable supporting this as a refuge for people who do use marijuana, and there are quite a few people that this is nearby,” Moore added.

The commissioners also expressed awareness that off-site marijuana use may cause trouble for other people, but there was no corresponding amendment attached to the marijuana dispensary itself.

The public speech of a representative on behalf of Jonathan Zhen representing Broadway Community was interrupted by one of the board members, who threatened to call the deputy sheriff. The representative presented some photos demonstrating that the proposed marijuana consumption site is less than 100 feet from a preschool.

The dispensary’s owner, Lawrence Michelson, said the closest K–12 school, John Yehall Chin Elementary School, is 735 feet away from the subject property.

According to Google Maps, the travel distance from 100 Broadway to John Yehall Chin Elementary School is about 0.2 miles (1,056 feet). (Screenshot via

“There are many dispensaries that have been approved today that are within closer proximity than ourselves … sometimes even two doors down from our dispensaries,” Michelson said.

The decision disappointed the hundreds of people, mostly elderly people from the Chinese community who came to San Francisco City Hall in the rain on March 9, who were trying to persuade San Francisco Planning Commission members to reject the marijuana dispensary.

Josephine Zhao, co-founder of Communities as One, said at the meeting: “We have over 100 incubators, marijuana businesses, and cannabis retails in the city operating right now. And there are 140, 150 more in the pipeline.”

“In a year or two, there’ll be more marijuana business than all the coffee shops,” Zhao said.

Local resident Lefteris Eleftheriou told The Epoch Times, “We feel the city is opening too many dispensaries, especially near schools.”

An attendee holds up a sign protesting the proposed marijuana dispensary, at a meeting of the San Francisco Planning Commission on March 9, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Eleftheriou said even though most of the people at the hearing said no to the dispensary, “the Planning Commissioners, they’re not listening to the residents, and people are very upset, very angry. Hundreds of people show up, they oppose, but they unanimously approve.”

Hazel Lee, president of the SF Shanghai Association, told The Epoch Times, “The development of the healthy and stable community must be balanced in all aspects, including economic, culture, education, healthcare, recreation, and arts.”

San Francisco resident Sherry Chan said she thought they could fight the marijuana dispensary like in 2017, when thousands of community members stood up against a marijuana dispensary at 2505 Noriega Street proposed by the husband of former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

At that time, San Francisco had not established ordinances for marijuana businesses after the legalization of recreational marijuana in California in 2016.

Today there are over 40 dispensaries in San Francisco, according to Weedmaps, which shows local cannabis dispensaries and delivery services.

The San Francisco Office of Cannabis site lists over 120 proposed retail licenses.

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