Wash Inn Cleaners at 2464 Polk St. has been shuttered since late 2015, but the storefront has remained vacant ever since, leaving neighbors to wonder what type of business might move in.
Hoodline has learned that House of Cannabis, a proposed medical cannabis dispensary (MCD), hopes to take over the space.
In materials submitted to neighborhood organizations in the Polk Street corridor that were obtained by Hoodline, House of Cannabis describes itself as a "medical marijuana collective set in a modern, accessible, sleek and sports-like environment."
If approved, House of Cannabis will have an "athletic inspired retail setting, in addition to constant streaming of sports entertainment," which would make it the city's first sports-themed dispensary.
Kenneth Schleuniger, the hopeful proprietor, told us that he originally became interested in opening a dispensary after becoming a patient himself.
"I'm in pain 24 hours a day," said Schleuniger. "Back and chest pain rise to the top on a daily basis. Sleeping disorders are a consistent problem and I use CBD [cannabidiol] to relax my body, [which] gives me relief."
House of Cannabis plans to offer products high in CBD, a marijuana component that's less psychoactive and is associated with medical benefits. Schleuniger said he'll also stock an array of sativa, indica and hybrid products higher in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound associated with feeling "stoned."
Schleuniger, who lives nearby, said a lack of access to medical marijuana near Russian Hill is one reason why he chose to pursue the project close to home. "I have to travel to other parts of the city to get my medicine," he said. "There is no medical cannabis facility north of Post Street in the city."
Set on a corner in a residential area, Schleuniger said the dispensary would be far "from the bar room activity on Polk Street with a medium-to-upper economic climate." Many who live nearby are already likely marijuana consumers, he noted.
He added that security is a primary concern, and that only those 21 and over with a proper medical recommendation would be allowed on the premises. He also added that there will be no cannabis consumption allowed on site.
Opening an MCD can be a "lengthy and risky" process, said Schleuniger. "It is a step by step process which has to be approached very carefully."
First, neighborhood associations must approve of the concept, plus a lease has to be negotiated with the landlord and the city's Department of Health (DPH) has to sign off before anything else can move forward.
After that, architectural drawings need to be submitted, applications filed with the Planning Department, and a final DPH approval must be received before a dispensary can open its doors.
"If any of the steps are denied...the deal is dead," he said. "You cannot move forward until the previous step is completed."
"2464 Polk Street is zoned in the Polk Street Neighborhood Commercial District," said Gina Simi, spokesperson for the Planning Department. "A MCD is permitted in that District with a Mandatory Discretionary Review."
Even so, "it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements regarding location," she added.
Schleuniger said construction could start immediately, and with proper planning, work could potentially be completed in three months.
The reaction that he has received from the neighborhood has been positive, he said. Now, it's up to Russian Hill Neighbors to give the go-ahead so that the lease negotiation can be finalized with the landlord.
We've reached out to landlord Litke Properties for comment, but our calls were not returned as of press time.
A representative from District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell's office said he won't take a position on the MCD, stating that the supervisor prefers to let neighborhood associations first weigh in on new business applications that can be appealed at the Board of Supervisors.
Emily Harrold, president of Russian Hill Neighbors, said her organization is still gathering information. "We haven't taken a position yet," Harrold told Hoodline. "And we may not."
"We have more than 600 members in our organization," she added. "This is new to us and we will do our thorough, due diligence and speak to our membership to see if its a right fit for Polk Street."
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