Vallombrosa 300x100 12.2017

More than $150,000 in cannabis money donated to SF Board of Supervisors

December 4, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

San Francisco supervisor and expected mayoral candidate Mark Farrell and Board of Supervisors president London Breed have received more than $50,000 each in reported political contributions from the local cannabis industry, according to political contributions reported to the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

In total, the 11 members of the current Board of Supervisors received at least $153,000 from owners, employees, lobbyists and firms associated with the cannabis industry in San Francisco, a review by Catholic San Francisco found.

In a 10-to-1 vote, the Board of Supervisors Nov. 28 approved sweeping legislation that is designed to allow the 46 existing medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as any who are still in the regulatory pipeline to convert to sales of recreational cannabis when the new state law takes effect in January. Supervisor Ahsha Safai was the lone no vote.

Close to half of all contributions to the supervisors came from Barbary Coast, which has one medical marijuana dispensary on Mission Street near Sixth Street and has received Planning Commission approval for a second one in the Sunset District on Irving Street.

District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang, who received less than $2,000 total from cannabis industry employees and no money from Barbary Coast, represents the outer Sunset district. Merchants and neighbors have filed an appeal to the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to be heard at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5. The board is also slated to vote a second time, usually a pro forma vote, on the citywide law approved Nov. 28.

Tang said she was surprised to learn about the money contributed by the cannabis industry to her colleagues. In a conversation with Catholic San Francisco, she said, “I wasn’t even aware of that. Your certainly brought that to my attention.”

However, Tang said in her own case if someone gives her money, it is not a guarantee of her vote. “I can’t speak for my colleagues,” she said. “When people make contributions to my campaign, it doesn’t mean I will certainly vote with them. You have pointed out an interesting contribution history. I can’t speak for my colleagues whether it would impact their vote or not.”

The two top recipients of cannabis money according to data collected by the Ethics Commission -- board president Breed and Pacific Heights-Marina Supervisor Farrell -- are also being discussed as possible candidates for mayor.

Breed responded to Catholic San Francisco, stating in an email that she consulted with the city attorney and the contributions from the cannabis industry and from Barbary Coast were not grounds for her to recuse herself from voting.

“I have discussed this matter with the City Attorney and have been advised there is no conflict which would require my recusal. As has always been the case with Conditional Use appeals, my vote on this matter will be based on my review of the materials submitted and the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing tomorrow, “ Breed wrote in a Dec. 4 email response to a query from Catholic San Francisco.

District 2 Supervisor Farrell received virtually all of the cannabis industry contributions he reported in 2016, the year when he ran for a position on the Democratic County Central Committee, according to the Ethics Commission data.

District 5 Supervisor Breed received most of her contributions beginning in 2014 with the bulk in 2016, when she ran for reelection to the Board of Supervisors and for a position on the Democratic County Central Committee, the data show.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim reported what appears to be the next highest amount with about $7,500 from David Ho, an owner of Barbary Coast cannabis dispensary and a community organizer with the Chinatown Community Development Corporation. Most of those contributions came during her first, 2010 successful campaign to be elected to the Board of Supervisors. Her district includes the Tenderloin. She had not responded to an email by press time.

Of all the contributions reported to the Ethics Commission, more than half came from Barbary Coast, whose case will be heard on appeal Dec. 5 by the board. Neighbors and merchants have filed two appeals of the Planning Commission approval of the cannabis dispensary at 2161-2165 Irving, between 22nd and 23rd avenues. Among those protesting the dispensary are St. Anne of the Sunset pastor Father Dan Nascimento and St. Anne of the Sunset principal Thomas White.

Barbary Coast is partly owned by David Ho and is represented by well-known Brendan Hallinan, who has made substantial contributions to members of the board and whose website www.hallinan-law.com notes the firm specializes in cannabis law for Northern California.

Breed, who as president regulates debate during board meetings, received $53,249 in contributions from marijuana dispensaries, and from Hallinan and his associates who represent the cannabis industry, and organizations who promote cannabis use. Breed received $23,500 in direct contributions from Barbary Coast’s owners, and employees. That included $11,000 from BCSF, Inc. or Barbary Coast-SF and $15,000 from Barbary Coast executive director Jesse Henry. Separately from the $23,500 directly from Barbary Coast, Hallinan and his wife Maira, gave Breed a total of $5,000, according to the Ethics Commission data.

Farrell received $52,500 in cannabis industry contributions, according to Ethics Commission data. Of that, $27,500 came from those directly associated with Barbary Coast. That included $10,000 from BCSF, Inc. or Barbary Coast-SF and $15,000 from Barbary Coast executive director Jesse Henry.

Based on a search of SF Ethics Commission campaign contribution data reported by the candidates:

District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who represents the Richmond District, received $4,232 in total from the cannabis industry, with $2,250 from Barbary Coast employees and another $500 from Hallinan’s wife Maira.

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents North Beach and Chinatown, received $6,350 from the cannabis industry, with $2,000 of that from employees of Barbary Coast.

District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the outer Sunset where the Barbary Coast dispensary would be located, received $1,750 from the cannabis industry and no contributions from Barbary Coast or Hallinan.

District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes West Portal, reported receiving a total of $2,700 from the cannabis industry, including $1,700 from Barbary Coast employees Jesse Henry and Nathaniel Haas and owner David Ho.

District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who represents the Castro, reported cannabis industry contributions of $6,000, with $2,500 from employees of Barbary Coast.

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronan, who represents Bernal Heights, reported cannabis industry contributions of $5,350 with $1,000 from Barbary Coast employees and another $1,500 from Brendan and Maira Hallinan and Andrew Silva, a member of the Hallinan law firm, Hallinan and Hallinan.

District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Bayview, reported $2,750 in contributions with none from Barbary Coast.

District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai reported $6,300 in cannabis industry contributions with $3,000 from owners and employees of Barbary Coast and another $500 from Hallinan.

The information on political contributions was compiled using the city and county of San Francisco’s 2016 list of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries available at sfgov.org and entered as search terms in the Ethics Commission database on reported political contributions as well as search team follow up information available via Internet search. Click here for a summary of cannabis industry political contributions to San Francisco supervisors and here for a list of contributions by the Barbary Coast dispensary and its affiliates.

Irish Help at Home flattened
McCoy's Flattened
Arch SF Development Alternate
Pontifical Mission Society - 230x100
St. Anthony's Foundation - 230x100

Catholic San Francisco
One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: 415-614-5639    Fax: 415-614-5641
E-Mail Us