(Dan Chambers/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF prepares for possible cannabis legalization

A week out from the November election, San Francisco department heads and local residents are preparing for the potential legalization of marijuana across the state.

A 21-member task force, which has worked to develop a set of recommendations for policymakers to consider if California voters approve Proposition 64 next Tuesday, is expected to produce a report for in the coming months that will touch on the impact of marijuana legalization on public safety, youth, tourism, social justice and other areas.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, a candidate for state Senate, called the oversight hearing at the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Board of Supervisors on Monday for an update from the task force.

“We need to make sure that we are planning for that distinct possibility,” said Wiener, who authored the legislation behind the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force in San Francisco.

While medical marijuana has been legal in California for two decades, Prop. 64 would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults at least 21 years old across the state.

“If we close our eyes in 10, 15 years, I think we’re going to look back and see cannabis as part of a normalized society,” said task force Chair Terrance Alan, a former entertainment commissioner who is a fixture in the local nightlife industry.

The measure would also create new licensing and regulatory systems for marijuana, as well as two taxes to fund drug-related programs, research and other responses to its passing.

About 250 residents have already applied to cultivate marijuana in San Francisco, and the number of dispensaries there could increase rapidly, according to Alan.

Alan said that city departments should prepare to apply for the money that Prop. 64 would offer through taxes and also brace to help those who are released from jail on marijuana-related charges as a result of the ballot measure, which is retroactive.

“We will be able to help the people that are getting out of jail so that they don’t end up back on the street corner,” Alan said.

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