California residents prepare to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — California led the Vanguard, becoming the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Now, twenty years later, voters in the Golden State will decide in November, if marijuana should be legal for recreational use.

It’s been a year and a half since San Diego’s first legally sanctioned medical marijuana co-operative opened and business at "A Green Alternative" has been good.

Patients can get their cannabis at the counter and even through a daily delivery service.

But Zachary Lazarus, the chief operating officer of this dispensary in Otay Mesa, has mixed feelings about making pot legal for any adult in the state of California.

The initiative that will appear on the November ballot will permit adults who are 21 and older to possess, use and share up to an ounce of marijuana.

Taxes would be imposed, a 15 percent excise tax on all retail sales and a separate cultivation tax on those who grow the marijuana.

If the measure passes, Lazarus said the state’s marijuana industry will prosper, with the creation of more jobs, especially in the areas of farming and production.

But he warns there could be a downside if regulations about safety, health and business practices are ignored or badly enforced.

Lazarus insisted on showing us some of San Diego’s unlicensed pot dispensaries. At one, called "The Outer Reach," in south San Diego, the security guards asked our reporter to leave.

In the lobby of a shop called "660" a patient named Jesse wanted people to know the dispensary was legal.

Although it’s the city attorney’s job to shutdown all the illegal shops, many still flourish.

City Councilmember Marti Emerald said even if California legalizes pot for recreational use, these black market shops will.

So far, four states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, plus the district of Columbia have legalized marijuana.

The last campaign to make pot legal in California failed at the ballot box in 2010 by a vote of 53 to 46 percent.

A number of law enforcement groups have already signaled their opposition to this measure and there is a provision in the initiative that would let local governments ban these marijuana  shops entirely

Categories: Local San Diego News