August 2014

Medical Marijuana Dispensary May Open in Dogpatch

Keith Burbank

Robert Watson shared his plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary, the neighborhood’s first, at last month’s meeting of the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA). He hopes to be in business by shortly after the end of the year, and expects to see perhaps 25 patients a day. Watson intends to name the business Dogpatch Collective. 

“We want it to be warm, welcoming and safe,” Watson told the View. The shop is slated to be located at 2544 Third Street, a 1,600 square foot space. Watson wants it to be a model for other dispensaries. “Be the hood ornament,” as a consultant told him. While he doesn’t have any experience operating a dispensary, his family has been farming for four generations, he’s educated himself in the use of medical cannabis, and he himself relies on medical marijuana. “There are some people out there that have abused this,” Watson said. 

While the first dispensary, Watson’s is the second marijuana operation that’s planning to open in Dogpatch. A cultivation shop is being developed at Indiana and 25th streets, suggesting that local wags may soon rename the community “Weedpatch.”

Products at Watson’s store will be sold in childproof containers, each with a bar code. The dispensary will verify whether the doctor prescribing the medicine is in good standing with the state medical board, and will call each doctor’s office to confirm that the prescription is correct. Neither combustion nor consumption will take place onsite. And “nothing but air” will be “leaving this space,” Watson said. The ventilation system will be on the building’s roof, and will be quieter than a conversation, he said. 

DNA members seemed okay with Watson’s plans, though no vote was taken on whether to support the dispensary. One resident asked whether the shop’s two security guards will carry guns. The guards will be members of the Special Patrol Police, a quasi-public, privately-paid police force structured legally under the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and in the City Charter. The force supports and supplements policing and safety services by the police department. Although the guards will be licensed to carry guns, whether they will is “still up in the air,” Watson said. 

Guards will be onsite from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. In addition to watching the entry, they’ll survey the immediate area outside the store. At opening and closing, a guard will escort staff in and out of the building. Cameras will be installed inside and outside the shop, which SFPD will have access to. Neighbors will be able to view a special web portal to monitor activity around the dispensary. 

Watson wants the store to be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Each of the three to five employees — including one manager on duty at all times, one intake associate and one to three service personnel — will have to pass a background check. The dispensary will offer only organic cannabis; Watson said he’d be surprised if the store features as many as 10 products, which should meet the needs of most patients, though as the availability of organic products increases more lines might be added. 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health permits, regulates and inspects medical cannabis dispensaries; operators must obtain permits through the department’s environmental health section. Watson has applied for approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission; he’ll have to receive approvals from other City departments before he can open.

 “We hope we can be a nice addition to the neighborhood,” Watson said. 


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