(Above: High Bridge Arms, San Francisco’s last gun store that closed its doors in October 2015, is soon to become a nonprofit cannabis dispensary called the High Bridge.)
Field notes and gossip from a local marijuana reporter from the intersection of pot, money, and power in the epicentralized San Francisco Bay Area.
A farewell to weapons
When wars end, societies “turn their swords into plowshares”. In San Francisco, we’re turning gun stores into ganja stores.
The city’s famed last gun shop, High Bridge Arms, laid down its guns last fall after losing its long battle against proposed regulations requiring the shop to videotape gun sales and report ammunition purchases to police, KQED reported. Pending approval by the city’s planning commission, the site is slated to reopen this summer as a medical marijuana dispensary called High Bridge.
“We found a lot of stray balls there during the renovation,” laughs Pac Heights founder and resident Sean Killen, whose charitable drive to “improve the community” will be in stark contrast to High Bridge’s controversial namesake .
High Bridge Arms opened in Bernal Heights in 1952 and later became a national symbol in the Arms Control Culture Wars when SF tested the second change in several national lawsuits that pushed arms deals out of town. High Bridge Arms was the defiant final store to be repeatedly closed and reopened under increasingly stringent city regulations until it closed for good in October 2015. While Sacramento is still home to 24 gun stores and Fresno has 45, Liberal San Franciscans say Good Liberation, sick of America’s 30,000 gun deaths a year.
In contrast, according to a study by Kaiser, cannabis has not caused a fatal overdose in known human history and is also linked to reduced suicide and drunkenness rates.
Killen has high hopes of improving community life through a nonprofit operation (despite state laws that have given potty for-profit companies the green light) that will focus on keeping cannabis prices down and passing them on to patients who care can not afford. He even intends to push the city into demanding free cannabis for low-income residents, just like Berkeley did in the fall of 2014.
Killen, a native of San Jose who left the tech sector and entered the cannabis field last fall when he started running the nearby pharmacy Bernal Heights Cooperative, says the corporate pot translates into lower prices and lower quality. Now that the collective is evicted from its building next to The Front Porch on 29th Street and Mission by June 15, Killen filed a lawsuit in April against landlord Marty Higgins, the same real estate developer who picked up and remodeled the rundown hemp center on Geary Boulevard got into the noble harvest at the beginning of this year. According to reports, Higgins plans to give the Bernal Heights Cooperative a similar high-end jeuje.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Department of Health accepted High Bridge’s fees on Feb. 8, meaning Killen’s new venture should soon join the city’s two dozen other licensed pharmacies. Don’t expect a multimillion-dollar expansion though – after a six-week saga to ensure ADA compliance, the team only has $ 15,000 to outfit the room. Killen is hoping for some kind of community barracking. He is publicly notifying the neighborhood this month ahead of his scheduled hearing in hopes of local support.
He currently has the support of High Bridge’s longtime landlord, Mr. Takahashi, who bought the building in 1988 and now rents its 800 square feet for $ 60,000 a year. Takahashi is “very happy, to be honest, that a cannabis shop is coming in there,” says Killen, laughing at a clause in his lease: the new pot shop “must not be used [the space] for the purpose of storing, manufacturing or selling explosives, flammable materials or other inherently dangerous substances, chemicals, objects or devices. “
The poetry of SF’s latest gun shop, which is reopening to sell America’s supposedly most dangerous plant, is sweet, he says: “It won’t escape us at all.” // Hohe Brücke, 3185 Mission St. (Bernal Heights)
Contact Herb Caine at Cannabis Insider at highsociety@7×7.com for announcements, tips, notes, and rumors. Herb Caine is a pseudonym for Bay Area cannabis reporter David Downs – a columnist, editor, and best-selling author. The Medical Marijuana Guide Book (Whitman) will be published in 2016.