Pubdate: Fri, 10 Nov 2017
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2017 Hearst Communications Inc.


Demonized for decades, marijuana remains controversial even on the
brink of its statewide legalization - and even in pot-friendly
strongholds such as San Francisco. The city is one of many still
debating local regulations that will either embrace an overdue retreat
from the drug war or effectively prolong the failed policy at the
neighborhood level.

For vacillating municipal officials, some context is in order. This
week alone, New Jersey and Virginia voters resoundingly elected
gubernatorial candidates promising to liberalize marijuana policy;
Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 seller of many popular wine and
beer brands, was reported to have bought a nearly $200 million stake
in a Canadian cannabis company; and California's attorney general
approved signature-gathering for a ballot measure to legalize
psilocybin mushrooms.

Of course, many marijuana advocates would hesitate to unleash
psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen, but the general momentum for drug
decriminalization is obvious and justified. Preventing American adults
from legally procuring marijuana, let alone jailing them for it, is
well on its way to being regarded as a folly on the order of
prohibiting them from buying a beer. A recent Gallup poll found that
64 percent of Americans favor legal cannabis, including a majority of

And yet in San Francisco, home of medical marijuana pioneers, the
Board of Supervisors is considering measures that would ban
dispensaries from particular neighborhoods or, by virtue of strictly
limiting their proximity to schools and other facilities, most of the
city. Such not-in-my-backyard proposals are only masquerading as
safety measures: As with alcohol, minors can be discouraged from
consuming the drug by law enforcement, not an extra block's walk.

San Francisco is also joining Oakland and Los Angeles in devising a
program to prioritize licenses for those harmed by the drug war, as
indicated by past criminal convictions and other prerequisites. Though
noble in their intent, the programs seem more likely to impede the
transition to a regulated market than to redress injustice. The best
answer to the drug war is to proceed with the cease-fire voters have

As evidenced by State Treasurer John Chiang's efforts to grapple with
cannabis financing challenges - he has proposed a fleet of armored
vehicles to collect revenue from what remains a cash business - legal
marijuana presents plenty of genuine policy challenges. The state's
cities need not invent any.
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