Is the Prop 64 marijuana legalization ballot item good for California?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The presidential campaign isn't the only big item on the ballot. Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana in California. So far, it's leading in the latest polls. But is it good for California? Here's a closer look at the initiative.

Inside Sparc, a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary, sales are brisk. To get pot there you need a prescription. But that doesn't stop people from getting it illegally. Prop 64 aims to shut down that black market by legalizing marijuana.

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"This is an industry that is here, it is not going anywhere, and its time that the general public and the state benefit," said Erich Pearson with Sparc.

Jason Kinney with the Yes on 64 campaign adds, "It brings an industry that's already a billion dollar industry in California out of the shadows and into the light so that we can regulate it, we can monitor it, we can track and trace it, we know who is buying, we know who is selling, and we can put protections in place."

Prop 64 supporter Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom convened a blue ribbon panel of marijuana experts that crafted the ballot measure.

Here is what Prop 64 would do:

  • It legalizes pot use for anyone 21 or older without changing existing medical use laws. But will tax non-medical pot up to $9.25 an ounce.
  • The proposition will regulate the industry, holding growers and sellers to state business laws.
  • Prop 64 will also create strict rules to prevent products from being marketed to children.
  • It will make it legal to carry up to 1 ounce of weed.
  • And anyone can grow up to six pot plants for their own use. Counties can limit that to indoors only.

"Prop 64 is written more like a business plan than it is a social justice or legalization plan," said Andrew Acosta with the No on Prop 64 campaign.

Opponents of Prop 64 include U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, health care groups, and law enforcement agencies from around the state. Among their biggest concerns -- keeping edible pot out of the hands of children.

"A brownie is a brownie, and it is hard not to make a brownie a brownie or a cupcake or candy, which is what a lot of these edible products are," said Acosta.

Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada is with the California Police Chiefs Association, which says Prop 64 is a bad idea. She says all you have to do is to look at Colorado to see what may happen here. The mile high state legalized cannabis in 2012.

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"Hospital room visits doubled, particularly with juvenile patients, fatalities involving marijuana doubled in Colorado the year after marijuana was legalized," said Tejada.

Colorado state police say the number of people driving drugged went up too. Marijuana was a contributing factor in 59 traffic fatalities in Colorado in 2015.

Prop 64 would set aside $1 billion a year from pot sales to implement the initiative. That money includes funding for the CHP to establish a measurement to determine when a driver is impaired. But, police say they are worried that will not be in place when the law goes into effect.

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Written and produced by Ken Miguel.
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