Many residents of San Francisco treat the opening of a pot dispensary in their neighborhood with fevered excitement or muted neutrality. It’s not often, however, that residents convene en-masse to oppose the opening of a pot shop.
This is exactly the situation transpiring in San Francisco’s Sunset District, a neighborhood that has historically housed Chinese immigrants with deep ties to the culture norms of their homeland. Not only do residents oppose the proposed opening, they have even taken to openly protesting it.
Some may view this as an unfortunate response, as asian owned cannabis clubs are just as rare (if not rarer) as the ones owned by African-Americans, a population that represents about 6% of San Francisco’s total demographic.
The dispensary in question is the Apothecarium, represented by former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s husband, Dr. Floyd Huen. The former mayors husband wants to open the first partially-Chinese owned dispensary in the city.
Residents of the neighborhood, however, are simply not having it.
Last Thursday in a tightly packed and overflowing community room at San Francisco Police Department’s Taraval Station, a vexed and noisy crowd gathered to vocally oppose the medical marijuana dispensary moving in.
Bill, a neighbor, expressed his concerns with the dispensary opening, saying “Because it’s bad for our kids, bad for our school and also you’re going to bring a lot of crimes, bad people around in your community…”
Dr. Huen’s responded with the reminder that “..there’s not enough access to medical cannabis for the Chinese community.” Before he could finish the remainder of this thought he was quickly shouted down by the audience.
Dr. Huen expressed surprise about his neighbors response, saying to CBS Bay Area, “I thought they would have at least enough respect to hear me out.” Guess not Dr. Huen.
In a move that highlighted just how tense and contentious the evening was, local police were forced to temporarily suspend the meeting until everybody calmed down and exited the room that was surreptitiously flirting with fire code violations.
Dr. Huen and his team were summarily forced out the room without getting a word in.
Neighbors say their ultimate goal is to make sure this dispensary, and no other like it, is permitted to open within the boundaries of their neighborhood.
Neighbor Valerie Schmalz said, “It’s really something we just don’t want in our neighborhood. I think we’ve all tried to fight it in the state, but we’d like to not have it in our neighborhood.”
Dr. Huen says he plans to address the community again, however it’s unclear at the time of this writing if he plans a different tactic on a community already staunchly opposed to anything he plans on presenting.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.