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Prop 64: Would Weed Legalization Hurt California's Image?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Marijuana is a budding industry in Colorado. There are more than 2,500 marijuana-related business licensed in the state.

"Now it's in your face, now it's on our internet sights, on our billboards, in neighborhoods and in the store," said Greenwood Village, CO police Chief John Jackson.

With legal cannabis in Colorado for the last three years, marketing and advertising of the product are shaping social views.

Diane Carlson with Smart Colorado, a group working to limit marijuana's reach, says weed as a part of everyday life is concerning.

Prop 64: As Recreational Pot Legalization Vote Looms, What Can California Learn From Colorado?

"People are viewing these new products and potencies and intake methods that have never been seen before as safe," she explained.

"If social consumption becomes more visible, that will normalize behavior for youth and make marijuana look more fun," said Andrew Freedman.

He's the Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination.

"Normalization will be something we'll have to battle," he continued.

Another fight may be for the state's image.

"There is some anecdotal evidence that there is a correlation between the homeless population and legalization," said Freedman.

Prop 64: Would Recreational Pot Legalization Really Ease Pressure On Police?

Denver's population is steadily growing, which may be why the number of people living on the streets has also risen.

"We are definitely attracting a population of people who are looking to consume drugs," said Stephanie Hopper.

Hopper owns a Denver Dispensary. She's is working with lawmakers and police to educate people and crack down on misuse.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't look good on the city and it's not what Colorado is about," said Hopper.

So will California have a similar struggle with mainstream marijuana? Especially considering medical cannabis has been used for two decades, but hasn't been pushed publically.

"If we do want to allow for it to be advertised, we have to accept the very real reality that we can't stop minors from being exposed to it," said Rosalie Pacula, a researcher with RAND's Drug Policy Researcher Center.

Prop 64: How Much Money Could Legal Weed Bring In – And Where Would It Go?

"The regulations under Prop 64 are completely inadequate to deal with that," she continued.

If Prop 64 is passed, companies:

-- Can't be within 600 feet of a school
-- Can't advertise directly to minors
-- Must prove that more than 70 percent of their audience is over 21
-- And CAN advertise on billboards and the radio, unlike tobacco which is banned from those mediums.

Pacula says there aren't enough restrictions to protect kids.

But is that a bad thing? Supporters of Prop 64 say it's not.

"It's readily available right now," said Nate Bradley. "It's readily available in our kids' high schools."

Bradley is a lobbyist for the cannabis industry and believes the prevalence of pot makes it less appealing.

Prop 64: As THC Levels Hit New Highs, Health Effects Of Marijuana Still A Big Unknown

"It makes it boring when it's okay for mom and dad to have it around the house," said Bradley.

So should marijuana be around California's homes? Some people we've talked to during our five-part series say legal pot could bring promise.

"We've seen over 10,000 jobs directly in this industry," said Brian Vicente, an author of Colorado's marijuana law.

"It's definitely profitable." Said one marijuana business owner.

"People are ready for a new more sensible approach," said Mason Tvert with Colorado's Marijuana Policy Project.

Whether recreational marijuana comes to California at all is up to you, the voters, on Nov. 8.

"There is a lot of work your community will have to do because there are a lot of questions that will have to be answered," explained Freedman.

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