Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2015
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2015 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Joshua Sabatini


If California legalizes marijuana next year, it remains to be seen 
whether San Francisco will be prepared.

However, a 22-member task force is in the works to formulate The 
City's strategy, as state voters next year will consider legalizing 
recreational use of the drug.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote in support of the task 
force during a meeting next week.

"If we don't formulate policies in advance of legalization, we are 
going to end up having a chaotic fire drill," said Supervisor Scott 
Wiener, who proposed the task force.

The board's Rules Committee unanimously supported it Thursday. "Good 
planning is key here," Wiener said.

Terrance Alan, co-founder of California Cannabis Voice, said the task 
force will answer the difficult questions, such where and how people 
can use the drug.

"I would love to see this task force bring cannabis into every aspect 
of our economy. I would love to go to the store and have not one but 
five choices of cannabis-infused shampoo." He added, "You want to get 
a chocolate volcano cake with cannabis frosting; here's how you do it legally."

The task force has a diverse membership. There are seven non-voting 
members who serve in an advisory role, including representatives from 
police, fire and city planning. The voting members are representative 
of neighborhood groups, restaurants, hotels, small and large 
businesses, along with medical and recreational marijuana users. The 
task force is expected to meet at the end of the summer and spend one 
year before reporting back to the board on legal, social, land use 
and enforcement issues.

The task force has its work cut out for them. Marijuana politics have 
proven to be very challenging in San Francisco. While medical 
marijuana dispensaries are legal, strict zoning controls have 
restricted these businesses to only certain neighborhoods, drawing 
complaints from all sides of the issue in the past several years.

Fiona Ma, a former supervisor and elected member of the state's Board 
of Equalization, which will also have an advisory seat on the task 
force, has been researching the issue around taxation policies. 
"Prop. 215 passed 20 years ago. We have not passed one [piece of] 
state legislation regulating this industry," Ma said. "Kudos to the 
industry for setting up all the framework over the past 20 
really get to where we are today where in 2016 we are talking about 
legalization." Ma said she expected at least two initiatives on the ballot.

Marijuana laws across the nation are in a constant flux as states 
defy federal law, under which the drug remains illegal. To date, 23 
states, the District of Columbia and Guam have legalized marijuana 
for medicinal purposes. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have 
legalized marijuana similarly to how alcohol is regulated.

Next year, ballot measures for legalizing marijuana is expected to 
come before voters in other states as well, including Arizona, Maine, 
Massachusetts, and Nevada.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom