Skyline view of downtown San Francisco.

Maria Grazia Montagnari

California Communities Create Cannabis Offices to Handle Recreational Rollout

California communities have begun laying the groundwork for the rollout of the recreational cannabis industry as San Francisco and Sonoma County take steps to create cannabis advisory panels within the government.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to create an Office of Cannabis to oversee the permit process in the city, while Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors appointed 20 people to advise the board on rules to govern the program.

The members of the Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group come from the cannabis and real estate industries, schools, law enforcement, and rural neighborhoods, according to a Press Democrat report. They will serve two-year terms.

County Supervisor Susan Gorin said the board “could have used the advisory group a year ago,” as seven months ago the county passed its initial rules for the industry. Sonoma County towns will have to evolve their rules to marry the county and state regulations.

San Francisco May Ed Lee included $700,000 in his budget to fund the city’s Office of Cannabis, which will have a staff of three for public outreach. One of the tasks of the office will be how to handle the anticipated demand. Supervisor Ahsha Safai suggested the current operators get priority for recreational permits.

“They have been vetted, they’ve gone through the process, they’ve been authorized by the planning department,” he said in an ABC-7 report. “The operators have had their backgrounds vetted.”

The San Francisco Office has not yet been staffed, but the goals for both agencies are similar – to have a single point of contact for the public and businesses as California migrates to a recreational market.

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