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San Francisco

As Hayes Valley cannabis dispensary seeks approval, temporary art gallery moves in

Cannabis enthusiast and hopeful dispensary owner Christopher Callaway has launched a temporary art gallery at 500 Laguna St. (and Fell). Named The Laguna 500, the gallery's first show, "Dark ~ Knight," features photographs Callaway took on Treasure Island.

Callaway, a 20-year San Francisco resident who lives across the street from the location, is currently working through the permit process to turn the space into a dispensary selling locally grown organic cannabis. But in the meantime, "I wanted to offer something to the community besides a vacant storefront," he said.

The space sat long empty before an event management agency briefly moved in two years ago.

"Dark ~ Knight" features photographs Callaway took on Treasure Island. | Photo: Christopher Callaway

The proposed dispensary is called Mr. C's, a nickname for Callaway himself. It would be his first cannabis business, although he already has two decades of experience in the industry, he told Hoodline.

Callaway says he plans to start the required neighborhood outreach soon, which includes hosting at least one community meeting at the space. Plans for the community meeting are still in the works, but potential guests speakers may include the dispensary's architect, a security expert and a lawyer who can answer legal questions neighbors might have. Callaway plans to announce the meeting on Nextdoor and in the art gallery's windows.

As for the gallery, the next exhibition launches in April and will feature the work of a Hayes Valley artist. In the long term, Callaway plans to feature the work of different artists with strong neighborhood connections in the dispensary on a one- or two-month basis. 

"I think it’s important for people to know where my heart is," he said. "I want to show my love for cannabis and design."

He said he also plans to donate at least one percent of the dispensary's profits to neighborhood initiatives. 

When asked when he thinks he will be able to open the dispensary's doors, he said, "The sooner the better, of course."

The Laguna 500's current storefront. | Photo: Teresa Hammerl

Neighbors have been supportive so far, Callaway said, noting that people have been coming in to ask what's going on and are happy to see the corner space come to life.

If the proposed dispensary earns approval, the space will undergo a seismic retrofit and the building will get a fresh coat of paint before the business opens its doors, Callaway added. Until then, commuters can enjoy glimpses of frequently changing artwork in the windows.

The Laguna 500 is currently open by appointment only from Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Neighbors interested in receiving news from the art gallery should sign up for its newsletter.

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