No New Cannabis Business Licenses in San Francisco Until 2028

Estimates say the illicit market accounts for roughly 60% of San Francisco cannabis business.

San Francisco has apparently settled on a deal for a temporary ban on new marijuana business permits in the city, after an initial proposal to indefinitely prohibit new license applications was walked back.

Under the terms of the measure approved unanimously by the city Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, no new cannabis business license applications will be eligible for consideration until New Year’s Eve in 2027 at the earliest, and that will only be if the board that year decides to let the new moratorium expire, CBS News reported.

The idea is to give the city both time to catch up on a backlog of nearly 100 existing permit applications and to give the operational legal cannabis retailers a bit more leeway to compete with the thriving illicit market, without having to also fight for market share with new licensees.

“If there is a continued illicit market and a continued saturation, many of these businesses that we’ve put effort and energy into won’t survive,” said board member Ahsha Safai, who wrote the moratorium bill.

Safai said that roughly 60% of the cannabis trade in San Francisco is illicit and that stalling new licenses will help the existing businesses stabilize.

“It’s a pause, not a ban,” Safai said of the move, The San Francisco Standard reported. “Ultimately, we can revisit where this is in a few years.”

The city has 32 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, another 31 recreational cannabis sellers, and more than 100 retail permit applicants still to be approved or rejected, the Standard reported.

Safai’s original proposal – a total ban on new cannabis permits – was met with fierce criticism, SFGate reported.

“What was initially proposed was more of a longer-term ban,” said board member Dean Preston. “These amendments go a long way in creating more of a short-term moratorium that was the original intention.”

The moratorium has to be passed a final time by the board, which is expected to happen next week, and then be signed by Mayor London Breed.

John Schroyer


  • Kevin Reed

    June 8, 2023 at 11:04 am

    In San Francisco’s defense, they added language to revisit this temporary ban in three years to gauge how it affected the city and the cannabis industry. In addition, it is only a pause on new retail licenses for the next four years to work through the large number of applicants that have already applied. It takes years to get through the permitting process in SF. The 47 square mile City of San Francisco’s population has been declining for the last several years. Surrounding cities have opened their own local dispensaries. The workforce that once filled our downtown high-rises no longer exists. Law Enforcement has had a very hands-off approach to selling cannabis without permits. It’s simply unfair to the existing businesses and the applicants, including Equity businesses, that will not have a chance to ever make it if this goes unabated. Imagine if numbers are correct and SF’s cannabis sales are currently down 50% in its 63 existing retail outlets already, what approving another 100+ retail/delivery services will do to everyone. So, it may sound unfair via headlines, but I believe it’s the considerate thing to do right now, at least in San Francisco.


  • Aron Pieman Kay

    June 9, 2023 at 3:06 am

    These bans will result in people dealing near the legal stores to undercut them…


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