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San Francisco Isn't Prepared For Recreational Marijuana Legalization

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- San Francisco will not have a regulatory framework in place by January 1st, when recreational marijuana becomes legal.

There is a heated debate over marijuana in San Francisco and the majority of the supervisors say they need more time in order to get this right.

After weeks of brainstorming, discussion, and a lot of debate the Board of Supervisors came to their meeting prepared, introducing several amendments to the agenda items regarding regulating cannabis.

San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen says she and her colleagues have made significant progress, but they need more time.

"That we don't rush legislation and that we roll up our sleeves and we continue to do our due diligence," Cohen said.

But San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy wants something passed now.

He proposed allowing current medical cannabis dispensaries - or MCDs - to apply for a permit that would allow them to also sell marijuana for adult recreational use.

He says this would make it more difficult to buy weed on the street.

Cohen passionately urged her colleagues to not allow for this, and instead to keep thoughtfully crafting a framework.

"That it doesn't even disrupt our timeline," Cohen said. "We still will be on target to be in place to be issuing permits. And let's also not forget that the Department of Public Health can also implement permits. We haven't talked about it because we haven't talked about it."

Sheehy ended up rescinding his amendment and said he doesn't expect much to get resolved until the land use issue is settled.

"You can get cannabis today," Sheehy said. "You'll be able to get cannabis on January 1. The adult use piece will continue to be black market, which is what we have today."

If the board votes to pass regulations at their next meeting, which is two weeks away, new marijuana businesses won't be able to legally operate on January 1st.

Instead, they will be delayed by two to three days, if the board passes something at their next meeting.

Other Bay Area cities have taken steps to ban recreational pot sales including Palo Alto, Campbell, Foster City, Hayward and Martinez.

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