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Adult Use of Marijuana Act proposed for November ballot

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is a marijuana legalization initiative proposed for the November 2016 California ballot. The 62-page initiative includes many new provisions and regulations of state law, and calls for allowing adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, regulation and taxing of marijuana's production and sales, and the revision of criminal penalties to reduce marijuana felonies. If voters approve the initiative, California will join Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon as states that permit recreational marijuana use.

The measure places a 15% tax on retail sales and bans its use in public, or while driving. Views among officials, especially law enforcement, vary. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is still reviewing the initiative, but is hesitant to give support as he thinks legalization would increase marijuana use and that there are currently too many problems with already legal drugs. However, Steve Downing, a former LAPD deputy chief, believes current marijuana laws unnecessarily criminalize non-dangerous members of the community, and that research has shown marijuana is not a gateway drug.

The California Police Chiefs Association opposes the measure in part because of the impact of legalization in other states, such as Colorado. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2013, and according to a report by the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 32% in one year. The CA measure does not include a mechanism for testing drivers, such as a system similar to alcohol intoxication levels.

Despite law enforcement's general hesitation and the defeat of a legalization initiative in 2010, a 2015 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 55% of likely voters in California favor full legalization, which includes recreational use.

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