November 18, 2008

San Francisco disputes federal pot claims

San Francisco officials dispute U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy's claims the city has more medical marijuana outlets than Starbucks coffee shops.

The office said in a posting on its official blog,, that San Francisco is home to 98 medical marijuana dispensaries and only 71 Starbucks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

However, San Francisco's Department of Public Health said only 24 marijuana outlets are registered in the city.

I don't know how they got that, Senior Health Inspector Larry Kessler said of the federal numbers.

Rafael Lemaitre, a federal drug office spokesman, said the agency found the marijuana-dispensing locations through Google searches.

This is information that is readily available to any teenager, Lemaitre said, while contending the state's medical marijuana law is essentially a fraud.

However, he was only able to provide the Chronicle a list of 74 of the claimed 98 pot outlets, of which the Chronicle said six don't list addresses in San Francisco and at least one was listed twice.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy changed its blog entry Monday night to say there are 71 marijuana stores and 66 Starbucks in San Francisco, but a Starbucks spokeswoman said the company has 71 cafes in the city.