Marijuana in the Marina

The blank exterior of 2414 Lombard St. doesn’t look like much now, but by the end of the first quarter next year, the space will be transformed into the Marina District’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

The Apothecarium is one of the more upscale dispensaries San Francisco has to offer. Their patients have a wide variety of products to choose from, whether it’s flowers, edibles, topicals or concentrates. The Apothecarium recently expanded from the Castro district to a location just off Market Street. They also have a location in Las Vegas, Nevada and have plans to open a store in Berkeley as well.

The Apothecarium is heavily involved in philanthropic work. The City and County of San Francisco recognized the dispensary in October of 2015 with a proclamation and official day in the city for donating over $300,000 to local charities and non-profits in 4 years of doing business.

The dispensary also does a lot of community outreach in San Francisco. The Apothecarium offers various support groups and hosts educational events for marijuana. Some of their free weekly programs include Simple Yoga for Busy Times, The Simple Art of Self Care, a Women’s Support Group, Meditation Group and a Veteran’s Support Group.

On Monday evening, The Apothecarium held a “Cannabis and Cancer” educational event at the Moscone Recreation Center off Chestnut Street in the Marina District where Sara Payan explained how cannabis can be used as therapy. Payan is the Director of Education at the Apothecarium. She created the education department after she was diagnosed with stage 3-colon cancer and began using cannabis as therapy alongside the chemotherapy.

Payan said, “When The Apothecarium first opened, I thought it was a soap shop. When I started going there after my chemo, I met kind and informative people that could help me with my pain.”

The Cannabis and Cancer class was an in-depth look at the science behind marijuana, how it breaks down the body and how the body reacts to each specific cannabinoid. She explained that each cannabinoid, which are the chemical compounds marijuana breaks down to, does something different in treating specific ailments.

The Apothecarium sees many cancer patients, HIV+ patients, and those with anxiety and sleep disorders. The Apothecarium also has patients from all walks of life, but they have a very high senior citizen population. Payan said that The Apothecarium’s main focus is all about empowering their patients.

Payan said, “A lot of advocacy around cannabis is really being your own advocate when it comes to healthcare.”

The Moscone Recreation Center hosts two different educational cannabis classes every second Monday of the month.

The Apothecarium has received some opposition on their plans for the Marina District store.

Patricia Vaughey is president of the Marina Cow Hollow Neighbors & Merchants Association. She said that if there is a controversial issue, the Association takes it to a vote. Vaughey stated that 68% of merchants rejected The Apothecarium.

Viva Goa is an Indian restaurant a few doors down from the planned Apothecarium location.

One of the managers Nicholas Fernandez, said, “We feel that it would affect us. All the smoke in the air doesn’t go well with the food; people might get upset stomachs.”

However, The Apothecarium does not allow “medicating” inside their facilities.

Much of the opposition was due to there being a transitional home for former foster children across the street. The Edward II home has 25 units available for adults ages 18-24.

Vaughey said, “People were concerned that it was across the street from an at-risk youth house.”

Shoes-n-Feet is another neighboring business to the future dispensary.

Employee Christi Walker said, “I just don’t think it should be across the street from a halfway house.”

Resident of the Edward II home, Bradley Anderson, is supportive of the dispensary.

Anderson said, “I think that there’s a lot of people in the building that need access to this medication. I think it’ll make our lives so much easier to get so much access to it.”

The majority of dispensaries in San Francisco are centered around Market Street. The attached map shows every dispensary in San Francisco, the planned location of The Apothecarium, and all other locations mentioned in this article. Zoom into the city of San Francisco and click on each point to see more information.

Veronica Escobar, Assistant Program and Case Manager at the Edward II home, said, “Our organization didn’t have an issue with it, it was more the people in the Marina District.”

Escobar said that many of the residents already have their cannabis club cards. She mentioned that many residents prefer to use marijuana rather than taking prescription drugs.

The Edward II home was met with similar backlash when they first planned to open their doors. The Cow Hollow Association fought against the Edward II home going into the Marina, but also argued that the Apothecarium would poorly affect the residents of that home.

Walker said, “When this Edward II home went in, it was the same thing. Very controversial. People just don’t like change.”

Fears of change in the Marina District may increase due to the passing of Proposition 64. Prop 64 allows adults 21 and up to purchase and use marijuana recreationally. Under the new law, people may currently use and grow marijuana, but the recreational purchase and sale of marijuana will not be allowed until the start of the New Year.

Prior to Prop 64, California allowed medical use of marijuana. Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 when Proposition 215, called the “Compassionate Use Act,” was passed. In 2003, a bill was passed to instate medical marijuana ID cards and established guidelines for dispensaries. The California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act passed in 2015 to create a licensing system and to establish more regulations for the sale of marijuana.

San Francisco voted 74.26% yes while the rest of the state only voted 56.4% yes for Proposition 64. The Apothecarium has not yet decided if they would open their doors to recreational users, but Sara Payan said that their store would remain medically oriented no matter what.

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