The debate over whether to bring the first medical marijuana clinic to the Sunset District has taken on racial overtones.

Many Chinese families in the Sunset are disappointed about the plan to open a new medical marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood, which was approved by the San Francisco Planning Commission on May 21st. But they’re even more upset with the way their complaints were treated. The debate over whether to bring the first medical marijuana clinic to the Sunset District has taken on racial overtones.

Many Chinese families in the Sunset are disappointed about the plan to open a new medical marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood, which was approved by the San Francisco Planning Commission on May 21st. But they’re even more upset with the way their complaints were treated.

According to the Sing Tao, supporters of the pot club used stereotypes and “racially colored arguments” against Chinese residents who opposed the idea during a public comment session. They argued that Chinese opponents of the pot club were against the idea because they didn’t speak English, and therefore didn’t understand modern medicine or the benefits of medical marijuana, according to the Sing Tao. Some also claimed Chinese families were opposing the proposal to protect housing prices in the area.

The Sing Tao quoted one supporter as saying, “Unfortunately, the Chinese community doesn’t understand what I said because I don’t speak Chinese. If I did, I would tell them they are being misled by their supervisor.” Supervisor Carmen Chu has said that San Francisco has more than 20 clinics, so there's no problem accessing medical marijuana. The real problem, she told the Sing Tao, is that the proposed clinic would be located near two public middle and elementary schools and several private tutoring centers and small businesses.

Chinese opponents said they were just trying to protect children and young people in the Sunset, where a lot of Chinese families live. Opponents can still appeal the decision to the San Francisco Appeal Commission or the San Francisco Public Health Commission. If they decide to fight the decision, the appeal process is expected to happen in the fall.

-- Vivian Po