Medical Marijuana Dispensary Seeks Approvals For Irving Street Location

If a pending application is approved, the Sunset's first medical marijuana dispensary will open on Irving Street in an Irving & 23rd Avenue space formerly occupied by a grocery store and a day spa. The Department of Building Inspection is currently considering an application filed by attorney Brendan Hallinan and Dickson Consulting Group to open a new medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) at 2161-2165 Irving St.

According to a real estate listing, 2165 Irving is home to Wah Fa Produce Co., a 1,200-square-foot market on a busy commercial strip between 23rd and 24th. The vacant storefront next door at 2161 Irving was once Sunshine Spa, which closed in 2012.

By our count, 28 dispensaries currently operate in San Francisco, but since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, Sunset residents and politicians have successfully blocked efforts to open MCDs in western neighborhoods. In 2010, the city's Board of Appeals revoked a dispensary's previously approved permit due to a typo in the planning code. Last April, District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang fast-tracked legislation requiring dispensaries to obtain conditional use authorization before opening.

Under the Department of Health's Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program, applicants must go through a rigorous certification process. Applications must include a criminal background check and detailed descriptions of proposed security, lighting and ventilation systems. After that, DPH refers the matter to the Planning Department, SFFD and the Mayor's Office on Disability for feedback and approval.

After applicants complete the Planning Department's application packet, the agency schedules a hearing. If the packet is approved, applicants share their compete design plans with the Department of Building Inspection, which relays the information to other agencies before scheduling a hearing. Only after plans are approved and construction is completed will the DPH hold a final hearing to decide whether to grant a permit to operate.

Anticipating a statewide measure that would decriminalize or legalize pot,  the Board of Supervisors has established the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force. Supervisors are currently appointing entrepreneurs, activists and other members of the community to a 14-person panel that will draft new rules for recreational use. 

Attorney Hallinan, who also advised the owners of Barbary Coast dispensary in SoMa, is working with the project applicant to navigate the permit process. "Basically, the project on Irving Street is at the very early stages. There is a lot of outreach to do as well as relationship building in the community," he told us.

According to Hallinan, the applicant lives in the Sunset and believes the dispensary can integrate successfully into the neighborhood. "We are excited to work on this project but want to make sure it is done right," he said. "The community needs to benefit from the dispensary for the project to make sense, and the project applicant is committed to working with the community to ensure that the impact of the dispensary is positive."

"That's a shocker; this is the first I'm hearing about it," said Bill Barnickel, president of the Outer Sunset Merchant & Professional Association. The group will take the matter up in an upcoming meeting before deciding how to proceed, he said.

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