Adult-Use (Recreational) Cannabis and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCD)

For information on obtaining an Adult-Use (Recreational) Cannabis permit, please visit the Office of Cannabis website at officeofcannabis.sfgov.org.

UPDATE April 2018

New! Guide to Cannabis Related Land Uses Handout
This document provides general guidance on the process for establishing certain land uses related to cannabis businesses and is principally focused on compliance with the Planning Code.


Cannabis Retail vs Medical Cannabis Dispensaries:

  • Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) are ONLY permitted to sell cannabis to patients holding a valid referral from their doctor.
  • Cannabis Retailers are allowed to sell cannabis to patients AND adults 21 and over (adult use).

EXISTING Medical Cannabis Dispensaries who wish to sell adult-use cannabis:

  • Temporary Sales: Existing MCDs may be eligible to temporarily sell adult-use cannabis by obtaining authorization from the Department of Public Health to do so. Please consult with the Office of Cannabis or the Department of Public Health for more information. Even if temporary authorization to sell adult-use cannabis is received, you MUST apply for a change of use to permanently change the use of your site to Cannabis Retail (adult-use cannabis) by March 31, 2018. You will also be notified when the Office of Cannabis makes Cannabis Retail and Medical Cannabis Retail Business Permit Applications available. Once the application is made available, you are required to apply within 30 days.
  • Permanent Sales: You must apply for a building permit (to establish a change of use), which will be subject to the Neighborhood Notification process. You have until March 31, 2018 to apply. Contact our Planning Information Center at: pic@sfgov.org or 415-558-6377 for more information. You may continue to operate as an MCD during your application process to see adult-use cannabis.

Medical Cannabis Dispensaries that do not hold a valid permit as of January 5, 2018 from the Department of Public Health and submitted their application to DPH after July 20, 2017 are for medical purposes only and cannot obtain a permit to sell adult-use (recreational) cannabis.


Cannabis Retail "Green Zones"
PDF Map and interactive map showing areas of San Francisco where cannabis retail may be permitted. Green areas - principally permitted; purple areas - permitted with a conditional use authorization; brown areas - permitted with a microbusiness license.

How to Apply for and Obtain an MCD Permit

  • Review the application and review process and requirements for a Medical Cannabis Dispensary (MCD) under the Planning Code and Article 16 of the San Francisco Police Code. 
  • Once a potential site has been chosen, request a site specific map from a private mapping company (see below). The map should identify the subject property, a 600 foot radius surrounding the property, and all known schools located within that radius. NOTE:  MCDs and Adult-Use Cannabis establishments are not allowed within a 600 foot radius of a public or private elementary or secondary school.
  • If unsure as to whether a use within the 600 foot radius will cause rejection of the application, it is suggested that you request a Letter of Determination (LOD) from the Planning Department to seek clarity regarding the use in question and its implication for the MCD application.
  • Once determined that the site is suitable for a new MCD, schedule a meeting to apply with the Office of Cannabis at 1390 Market St, Ste. 210 by emailing officeofcannabis@sfgov.org.
  • Visit the Department of Building Department Inspection (DBI) located at 1660 Mission Street in San Francisco to submit a building permit to establish an MCD at your proposed location. Include the Planning Department MCD application as part of the building permit application. DBI will route this application to the Planning Department.    
  • The application will be assigned to Planning Department staff for review and to schedule it to appear before the Planning Commission at a public hearing for approval or disapproval.
  • Once plans are approved, the applicant will receive a notice from SFDPH regarding their upcoming hearing.
  • Upon approval, a permit to operate is issued.

How to Apply for and Obtain a Cannabis Retail Permit

  • Contact the Office of Cannabis to determine eligibility.
  • Once the Office of Cannabis has determined you are eligible, consult our PDF Map and interactive map showing areas of San Francisco where Cannabis Retail may be permitted. You may also request a site specific map from a private mapping company (see below). Please note that adult-use Cannabis establishments are not allowed within a 600 foot radius of a public or private elementary or secondary school. In addition, you should also be aware as part of the CU hearing  that the Planning Commission will look at any increase in youth access and exposure to cannabis at nearby facilities that primarily serve youth, and any proposed measures you plan on implementing to counterbalance any such increase. 
  • For principally permitted adult-use, visit the Department of Building Department Inspection (DBI) located at 1660 Mission Street in San Francisco to submit a building permit application for your proposed location. DBI will route this application to the Planning Department.
  • If it is not principally permitted, new adult-use cannabis establishments will require a Conditional Use application and Planning Commission hearing prior to filing a building permit application.
  • The application will be assigned to Planning Department staff for review. In cases where a Conditional Use applies, staff will schedule a hearing before the Planning Commission for approval or disapproval.

Private Mapping Services

*This listing does not constitute an endorsement. Other professionals can also perform this work and can be added to this list upon request.

Build CADD
3515 Santiago Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 759-8710

Javier Solorzano
3288 - 21st Street #49
415-724-5240
Javier131064@yahoo.com

Jerry Brown Designs
619 - 27th Street, Apt. A
415-810-3703
jbdsgn328@gmail.com

Notificationmaps.com
866-752-6266
www.notificationmaps.com

Radius Services
1221 Harrison Street #18
415-391-4775
radiusservices@sfradius.com

Notice This
650-814-6750

Ted Madison Drafting
P.O. Box 8102
707-228-8850
tmadison@pacbell.net