Cannabis aficionados who've visited dispensaries in both Northern and Southern California are well aware that the offerings can be very different. Now, a Los Angeles-based dispensary has arrived in SoMa, with the goal of introducing new products from Southern California to the local market.
Project Cannabis SoMa, which opened last week at 761 Bryant St. (at Sixth Street), is a partnership between the company of the same name (which has three L.A. locations) and a trio of longtime San Francisco residents.
The project represents nearly four years of planning. John Delaplane, Quentin Platt and Joe Reiss first signed the lease on the Bryant Street space in 2016, and earned Planning Commission Approval for their Article 33 medical cannabis license in August 2017. But the November 2016 passage of Proposition 64 allowing for statewide recreational cannabis sales, and San Francisco's efforts to implement it, threw their plans into flux.
San Francisco passed an ordinance in late 2017 rendering Article 33 licenses invalid once a dispensary applies for a new cannabis business permit under Article 16 of the Police Code, or on December 31, 2019, whichever is earlier.
Since Delaplane and his partners had already received SF Planning Commission approval before the new ordinance took effect, they were eligible to receive a temporary permit amendment to sell adult use cannabis under their Article 33 medical cannabis dispensary permit.
“We are excited to be open after such a long time coming,” Delaplane said.
Though their dispensary has been in the works since 2015, the three partners only started discussions with North Hollywood-based Project Cannabis about nine months ago. The company is vertically integrated, growing and producing many of its own products and brands.
Project Cannabis SoMa aims to reflect the best of the State of California in their menu, Delaplane told us. In addition to their house brands like Triple Seven and Classix, the store will feature local Bay Area products, social equity products, and a curated selection of the best-selling Project Cannabis products from Southern California.
The open, airy new dispensary space is more than 3,800 square feet in total, filled music-themed decor like old concert photos and quotes from local artists.
“We understand where the industry came from, where it’s trying to go, and want do ‘California’ really well and make it a fun experience."
Delaplane said he and his partners chose the Central SoMa location because they felt it was underserved. The northern part of the neighborhood has a wide selection of dispensaries, including Barbary Coast, Urban Pharm, Vapor Room, and Sparc. But there aren’t really any options south of Folsom Street.
Project Cannabis is sticking with Bryant for the long haul, hoping to reap the benefits of new development under the recently approved Central SoMa plan, Delaplane said. Formally adopted in December 2018, the plan aims to triple the neighborhood’s existing capacity, adding office space for 32,000 new jobs and 8,800 new housing units by 2040.
As part of the dispensary’s city-required social equity plan, Project Cannabis will be partnering with local non-profit Tech Exchange and the nonprofit San Francisco Equity Group (to which Reiss is an advisor) to provide free refurbished laptops and computer training to cannabis social equity applicants — people affected by the War on Drugs who are applying for city permits to open a cannabis business.
The dispensary will provide free laptops to verified equity applicants that complete a day-long computer skills training program through Project Digital Equity (DE). The program will be offered quarterly, with small classes of six students or less. Project Cannabis will pay for the training courses, and for up to 24 computers each year.
“It is our sincere hope that we can secure additional funding for this project, and provide classes more often than once per quarter,” Delaplane added. “The groundwork is laid, so if anyone wants to contribute [to Tech Exchange], we'd love it."
Project Cannabis SoMa is now open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., seven days a week, with plans to extend hours as late 10 p.m. in the near future, if demand allows. While the dispensary’s permit could allow for eventual delivery service, for now, sales are on-site only.
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