When Dmitry Margusov went through the permitting process to open a medical marijuana dispensary on Mission Street last June, there were six others in the Mission and one in Bernal Heights, and the biggest obstacle to opening was neighborhood opposition.
Now, as he prepares to open the Herbal Mission marijuana dispensary and cafe at 3139 Mission Street on Tuesday, the landscape has changed radically.
The U.S. attorney for Northern California, Melinda Haag, has pushed two dispensaries in the Mission to close because they are too close to schools. At least one other dispensary, the Shambhala Healing Center, received a cease-and-desist letter last month.
Margusov declined to comment about the federal crackdown, saying only that he hopes to avoid receiving the letter.
“The bottom line is that there are cancer and AIDS patients that need their medicine,” he said.
The café, which is in the same building but separated from the dispensary, will open in a week or two, he said. The café was added to the plan as a concession to neighbors, who want a storefront as a way to prevent crime in the area.
The idea is that an active storefront will deter quality-of-life crimes like graffiti and loitering, which were a problem when the building was vacant.
Margusov, who has arthritis and needs a hip replacement, is a medical marijuana patient himself.
After seeing the benefits of marijuana, he decided to educate others about the plant’s medicinal qualities.
His goal is for Herbal Mission to be as safe and professional as the dispensary he went to in SoMa.
To beef up security, he installed dozens of cameras and lights inside and outside the building. He also hired a security guard who was recommended by the San Francisco Police Department.
“We want them to feel safe,” Margusov said.
Construction took nearly a year, and he still hopes to add more improvements, like outdoor seating and planters. Once the the dispensary builds membership, Margusov, who is a chiropractor, hopes to offer a health care package that would include physical therapy and other medical services.