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San Francisco Resumes Issuing Medical Marijuana Dispensary Permits

SAN FRANCISCO — For now, it’s a go, after a recent State Supreme Court ruling that allows local medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.

UPDATED: January 31, 2012

Department of Public Health officials announced Monday they will resume San Francisco's medical cannabis dispensary program licensing and inspecting collectives . The move comes after the agency said last week they would first accept then reversed their statements that the application process was suspended. Under these clarified rules, existing dispensaries must sign a statement swearing that all medical marijuana sold on storefront is cultivated in California and comes from a grower who is a member of the dispensary's nonprofit collective.

For more information on San Francisco's Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program visit:

UPDATED:  January 26, 2012

San Francisco city officials have spoken; all medical marijuana permits are now on hold indefinitely until the city "receive assurance that it is in compliance with state and federal law," according to Jim Soos, the spokesman with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. 

"We're waiting for more clarity from the state on our ability to issue permits," said Soos.

-- It will be recalled that San Francisco’s permit issuing process under its Medical Cannabis Act had been suspended for several months now after a state court of appeals promulgated its decision in the Pack vs. Long Beach case. That decision affirmed the county laws regulating medical pot was in violation of federal law, leading various cities and counties in California to hold off, reconsider, or rescind their respective regulatory procedures.

The Supreme Court will be hearing an appeal but in the meantime, the earlier appeals court ruling has been revoked, according to a spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera last Friday. What that means is that California’s Department of Public Health can proceed processing dispensary applications. The many dispensaries that have pending applications can finally expect to get their permits.

The four proposed medical marijuana dispensaries had been heard by the Planning Commission, one of last steps to start their pot club business but was delayed by the Pack ruling. So did another three to be located on Mission Street and had their hearings at the Excelsior District. Green Cross will have its permit hearing on February 16 but asked for an earlier date.

Compared to the impact of recent coordinated federal crackdowns of 2011 that forced scores of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area, Sacramento and San Diego counties to close shop, the state’s supreme court ruling hasn’t made much dent on US Attorney’s drive against medical marijuana.

But not all cities and counties in California stopped processing or permitting dispensaries as per the appeal’s court ruling. Oakland, for instance, continued to review applications and issued four permits since the ruling came out. San Francisco was expected to continue processing permits pending a final decision of the State Supreme Court, according to Jack Song, the City Attorney spokesman.