San Francisco, recognized as the pioneer of the modern medical marijuana industry, has unfortunately recorded no significant growth in its cannabis sector for the past two decades due to the inconsistent licensing of business permits by regulators.
However, changes have been set in motion since California legalized adult-use marijuana in 2016, allowing San Francisco leaders to revamp the city’s cannabis industry regulations and adopt a new system that will approve and issue business licensing for all retailers. This included retailers who have been in business for years as well as social equity applicants and incubators.
The new measures saw a number of licensed businesses open up shop, including Stiizy Union Square Shop, a newly remodeled enterprise whose sole proprietor is Cindy DeLa Vega, a Latin American social equity applicant who partnered with Shryne Group, a social equity program for retailers.
De La Vega is among the eleven social equity applicants whose permits have been issued by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis. While this is impressive progress, the agency still has a long way to go in processing applications.
As of October this year, the agency has received 380 cannabis business applications and will be issuing permits on a rolling basis.
The city offers various forms of licensing, including cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, microbusiness, delivery retail, retail storefront, retail with consumption lounge, and testing labs.
An agency spokesman said 139 applicants have been approved as of October, with 24 more in the final phase.
Players in the industry have had to contend with frustrating challenges due to the slow approval process that runs into several years and has seen many abandon their projects.
A step by step guide from the San Francisco Office of Cannabis requires applicants to complete at least eight procedures before obtaining city permits. Each step can take weeks and even months.
Many industry players in San Francisco are hanging on despite the dragging process. While they applaud the city’s cannabis industry transformation, they admit it’s progressing at a snail’s pace.