Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

SF zoning official rejects proposed pot dispensary in Castro district

A new gay-owned medical cannabis dispensary has been told it can not open in the upper Market Street storefront housing a record store.

A new gay-owned medical cannabis dispensary has been told it cannot open in the upper Market Street storefront housing a record store. (Courtesy Google Street View)

A medical cannabis dispensary that wants to open in San Francisco’s gay Castro district has run into zoning problems as it searches for a location.

Since the beginning of the year a gay couple has been scouting for a location to launch TGIF Membership Group, the name of their proposed dispensary.

After the storefront at 2350 Market Street, which currently houses Streetlight Records, was put on the market earlier this year, the couple asked the city’s planning department if the location was zoned to house a dispensary.

In a letter dated April 16, Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez wrote that he had determined it was not. The reason cited was because the subject property is within 1,000 feet of Corona Heights Park, including the Randall Museum, which primarily serves persons under 18 years of age.

“Therefore, an MCD is not permitted at the subject property,” wrote Sanchez, who advised the couple they could appeal his determination with the Board of Appeals within 15 days of the date of his letter.

Desmond Morgan, the COO of TGIF Membership Group – the acronym stands for Thank God It’s Friday – told the Bay Area Reporter this afternoon (Friday, May 1) that he and his fiance, Romwald Connolly, who is the CEO in the business, would likely not appeal, and instead, would continue looking for a storefront that complies with the zoning rules.

“I think (we are) on the drawing board to find another location. I don’t know if I want to really fight the city on it,” said Morgan, who works in the pharmaceutical industry and moved from Seattle 15 years ago. “I don’t think it will change their minds.”

They are not the first proponents of a medical marijuana dispensary in the Castro district to run into zoning trouble. Five years ago a plan by two gay men to open a version of the Farmacy, a successful chain in the Los Angeles area, in the gayborhood faced the same issues with the city’s rules on where such businesses can be located.

In addition to adhering to the prohibition of being within 1,000 feet of a community facility and/or recreation center that primarily serves persons under 18 years of age, a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco can not be within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school.

So far the only dispensary near the heart of the Castro business district is the Apothecarium, at 2095 Market Street near Church. The straight-owned venture that donates to LGBT community groups opened in June of 2011 and often has lines out the door.

TGIF Membership Group has yet to meet with Castro neighborhood organizations about it plans, though the zoning administrator’s letter states it was sent to a number of the groups. Morgan said the couple was waiting to find a location before starting to do neighborhood outreach.

They are hopeful the neighborhood will welcome the addition of a gay-owned dispensary to the Castro.

“Yes, I am willing to go to another neighborhood, but we should be able to do business in and support our own community,” said Morgan, who was attracted to the enterprise due to seeing friends with brain tumors, cancer, and HIV benefit from using cannabis. “We are trying to see what we can do to find anything around there.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 1, 2015 @ 3:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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