San Francisco Goes Legal: Live Updates

Editor’s Note: San Francisco’s adult-use era opened today, with a handful of stores licensed and operating across the city. Leafly’s Chris Roberts will update the scene throughout the morning.

Update, 8:01am PST“Good morning everybody. We’re open,” besuited Kevin Reed said as he cut a red ribbon across the door of his storefront. And with that, the marijuana legalization era in San Francisco began. 

Five customers were in line. First purchase honor went to Jesse Stout, one of Green Cross’s company lawyers.

Jesse Stout makes the first adult-use purchase at Green Cross in San Francisco this morning.

Update, 7:22am PST–“Okay, one [customer] just arrived,” Reed texts.

Update, 7:20am PSTMaybe all this last minute permitting is bad for business, or maybe cannabis consumers have legalization fatigue: 40 minutes before the first sale of legal cannabis in san Francisco, “not one single person” outside the Green Cross dispensary, founder and CEO Kevin Reed tells me.

Today’s a big day in marijuana history: The first day of legal sales to all adults 21 and over in San Francisco, the medical cannabis movement’s cradle.

Beginning at 8 a.m. today, six of the city’s roughly three dozen storefront marijuana dispensaries began taking customers without requiring medical-marijuana paperwork.

They are: The Apothecarium, Grassroots, The Green Cross, Harvest on Geary, Medithrive, and ReLeaf Herbal Cooperative.

Green Cross and Grassroots both opened at 8 a.m., with Apothecarium and Medithrive opening after 9 a.m.

Thirty-one of the city’s 46 existing medical marijuana storefronts and delivery services sought licenses from the state to start sales today.

After reviewing security plans, good neighbor policies, and proposals to employ locals and people of color, the city’s Office of Cannabis recommended seven dispensaries to receive approval, and the vital state license, from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

And just as it did last weekend, the BCC issued licenses well into the evening on Friday, in some cases giving business owners a scant 12 to 14 hours’ notice that their customer base was about to expand exponentially.

The seventh dispensary, Shambhala Healing Center, apparently needed more paperwork from its landlord—who was away on vacation and couldn’t be reached, a disappointed owner Al Shawa told me.

For the lucky six, the emails from the BCC set off a furious scramble to open early, arrange staffing and invite a few politicians to a hastily-planned ceremony—and then make history.

Marijuana has been sold openly in this city since at least the 1970s, when Dennis Peron ran a major weed-dealing operation out of a Castro District restaurant. The first medical marijuana dispensaries in America were here, and now, five days after commercial sales began across the bay in Berkeley and Oakland (where lawmakers were just quicker to the punch), the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry has arrived.

“I would compare it to when the city tries to get the Olympics come in,” said Misha Breyburg, Medithrive’s founder. “It’s one of those moments where you feel like laughing and crying at the same time.”

Medithrive has had a tougher road than most: It was one of the dispensaries to shut down during an Obama-era crackdown in 2011-2012. One-third of San Francisco’s legal pot clubs went away. Medithrive went delivery-only, and reopened only after Congress removed funding from the Justice Department to go after medical marijuana. (Shambhala, too, survived the crackdown, and was one of the few dispensaries to challenge the local U.S. attorney in court.)

We’ll be bouncing all around the city today to see who’s heard the good news and turned out bright and early. Check back for updates.

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