A marijuana boutique wants to smoke out the pay-to-play system at City Hall, and they just filed a lawsuit charging that cronyism and gobs of campaign cash led the Board of Supervisors to green-light a rival’s permit while denying theirs.
The Apothecarium was denied their Sunset district permit by a 9-2 board vote when Sup. Katy Tang said an “overwhelming majority” of her constituents didn’t want a dispensary in their neighborhood. But then she and the rest of the board voted 10-1 to approve a more generous campaign donor’s dispensary in the same neighborhood and district, just nine blocks away.
“A major donor’s dispensary gets approved by the board while the city’s most respected dispensary gets denied,” Apothecarium spokesperson Eliot Dobris tells SF Weekly. “The board has sent a clear message that if you want to open a new dispensary, you need to donate $75,000 to the board of supervisors.”
“The board of supervisors also sent a terrible message that being a good dispensary operator doesn’t really count. What matters is making financial contributions to the right people,” Dobris adds.
The “major donor” to whom the he refers is David Ho, the politically connected co-owner of the Barbary Coast dispensary. Barbary Coast had their Sunset location approved by the board on Dec. 5 after an appeal from concerned neighborhood groups. The Apothecarium’s permit was denied on Oct. 3 in an extremely similar appeal, with many of the same residents voicing the exact same concerns.
The lawsuit claims that of all cannabis industry donations made to the board of supervisors, “roughly half of the donations were associated with Barbary Coast. David Ho, an investor and promoter of Barbary Coast, actively participated in independent expenditure efforts supporting the campaigns of Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Asha Safaì, and Norman Yee, and he was