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San Francisco Supervisor Pushes For Task Force If Marijuana Legalized In 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener is hoping to get approval to create a task force to help plan local policies if cannabis is legalized in the 2016 California election.

Wiener planned to introduce legislation at today's Board of Supervisors meeting to create the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force.

The supervisor said in a statement that if San Francisco doesn't prepare for the possibility of legalization in 2016, the city could "end up having a chaotic fire drill after legalization occurs."

Wiener suggests that the task force be made up of 19 representatives from the city's Department of Public Health, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Building Inspection, Planning Department, and San Francisco Unified School District, as well as numerous representatives from the cannabis-using community and cannabis industry.

Business, tourism, neighborhood associations, public health advocates, and entertainment/nightlife advocates would also take part in the panel.

The task force will advise the Board of Supervisors, the mayor and city departments on the local impacts of state legalization. This group will also make policy recommendations to ensure effective implementation in San Francisco.

The need for such a task force has arisen after Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. legalized recreational adult use of marijuana in recent years and as several pro-legalization groups are crafting statewide legalization ballot measures for California in 2016.

Wiener said he hopes that forming a task force, more than a year before the law is potentially going to change, will allow San Francisco to address a myriad of social, economic, land use and enforcement issues in a thoughtful, local way.

Since Washington state legalized marijuana in 2012, a host of issues have cropped up.

Topics of debate in Washington since legalization include youth marijuana use, public marijuana use and whether to limit when and where marijuana dispensaries crop up.

Marijuana retailers in Washington have also had to deal with issues such as the reluctance of banks to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses out of fear that they could leave themselves vulnerable to federal money-laundering charges since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Wiener said, "Within the next two years, use of cannabis is likely to be legal in California, and we need to be prepared with smart public health, zoning, and other local implementing regulations."

He said that by acting now to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, the city "can flesh out" the countless issues, many already encountered by the other states and cities that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Based on Wiener's legislation, the task force would start meeting by the end of this summer. After a year, the task force would report back to the Board of Supervisors on the issues that are likely to arise if California voters pass a legalization ballot measure.

Wiener said the task force would not advocate for or against legalization, but would instead focus on policy and administrative solutions to prepare the city should legalization occur.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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