Two more aspiring Mission cannabis outfits are heading before the Planning Commission this week, with a third slated to appear later this month.
Up for an Oct. 3 hearing is Two Bridges Collective, a cultivation business at 49 Duboce Ave. near the SoMa Skatepark, which would dedicate 1,000 square feet for cannabis growing and cultivation that would be fully licensed by the city’s Office of Cannabis.
Also on the Oct. 3 ledger is Mobudz.io, a recreational store, at 2934 Cesar Chavez St. at Bryant Street.
Finally, up for an Oct. 17 hearing after an abortive Planning Commission appearance on July 25 is Union Station at 2075 Mission St., near 16th Street BART. Unlike the other two proposed businesses, Union Station, slated to occupy 3,590 square feet of space, would not only sell cannabis products but also allow on-site consumption in an air-ventilated smoking lounge in a separate room.
Union Station’s project sponsor, Joseph Hunt, hopes he can get community support from more Mission residents and held an open house at the retail location earlier this month. The event attracted dozens of Mission residents along with activists who told Mission Local they are supporting Hunt’s project because it’s the first to be proposed by homegrown cannabis entrepreneurs.
“We would love to be the shining star of the Mission. As far as the business goes, we want to be looked at as an asset,” Hunt said.
Hunt, a former dispensary owner, was affected by the federal crackdown on medical cannabis in the early 2010s when the Drug Enforcement Agency sought to close these businesses down. Because he is a city resident and faced legal charges by the government, Hunt was able to qualify for the city’s Cannabis Equity Program, which is designed to lower the barrier to obtaining a cannabis business license by waiving fees and offering rent subsidies.
Many of his partners are former cannabis industry workers and Mission natives affected by the government’s War on Drugs, including arrests..
Union Station initially faced pushback from members of the activist coalition calling itself United to Save the Mission, which protested the proposal at a July 25 Planning Commission Hearing, claiming that the lounge would increase gentrification and bypass controls on entertainment businesses in the Mission. Yet when the meeting came, Hunt and his partners spent their presentation time negotiating and talking to members of USM in the hallway outside, where some laughter and jokes could be heard.
After months of bumpy negotiations, Hunt said the two groups are now working together to move the lounge proposal forward and are drafting a memorandum of understanding the two would abide by.
Mission Local placed several phone calls and messages to United to Save the Mission. Representatives of the coalition said it had no comment and would not have anything to say regarding the project until an agreement was sealed.
Over at 49 Duboce Ave., near the SoMa West Skatepark, Two Bridges Collective aims to be one of the newest indoor cultivation outfits for growing and distribution to retail businesses in the city. Project sponsor Danilo Vilsnich is a long time cannabis grower in San Francisco who has been working in the industry since 2004. Originally from Sacramento, Vilsnich came to the city in the early 1990s to attend University of San Francisco and never left.
He said he got involved in growing cannabis when a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Hoping it would help with her treatment, he began supplying medical cannabis to his aunt.
The warehouse he rents could expand beyond the 1,000 feet already devoted to cultivation. Planning documents show that the building has two floors and a basement that can be used as nurseries to grow cannabis — specifically Tahoe OG Kush, which Vilsnich said is a high-end strain. He sells locally and intends to maintain a local presence.
“San Francisco offers the best support to cannabis businesses, but the drawback is the rent. The tax rate is reasonable and it’s close to the stores; the seed-to-sale thing is less than a mile. All my product goes to the dispensaries here in the city,” Vilsnich said.
Vilsnich, who is Mexican American, said he applied to legitimize his business in 2017 and has spent the past 17 months getting the property he rents up to code. The final step to finally legitimize his business would be the Planning Commission’s hearing this week.
Faizan Shaikh, meanwhile, hopes to turn a 150-square-foot empty retail space at Cesar Chavez into the Mission’s newest — and smallest — cannabis retail store called Mobudz.io. The name, however, is likely to be temporary and Shaikh said he came up with it while brainstorming ideas with his friends.
Shaikh is originally from Karachi, Pakistan, but arrived in the Mission back in 2004, when he was 9, to live with the rest of his extended family. The 24-year-old has grown up all over the Mission, and moved around with his parents across the city. His grandparents also ran a hotel in the Mission, so he spent a lot of time here.
Shaikh said he uses cannabis to deal with pain from a crooked vertebrae, a condition he’s suffered from since he was a child. The discomfort was augmented by an injury he suffered while playing football in a recreational league, where he lined up as a linebacker during his years as a student at Daly City’s Jefferson High. Friends suggested he take painkillers like hydrocodone, but instead he began to use cannabis.
Shaikh said he hopes to get the business plans approved at Thursday’s meeting, which would allow him to begin moving forward with his plans to open up the store.
“We have our hopes up,” he said. “We meticulously did everything we could to get it right.”