The ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana got a strong endorsement from the San Francisco Chronicle today, with its editorial board urging voters to say yes to Proposition 64 on Election Day, November 8.

The editorial begins by saying the decision to reject the last legalization initiative (Proposition 19) six years ago was a good decision. The Chronicle didn't approve of things like the clause that prevented workplaces from banning cannabis consumption on break times, or the provision that allowed people to smoke marijuana in moving vehicles.

Nonetheless the Chronicle says "black" and "gray" markets are harming young people and promoting illegal activities, common complaints about prohibition across North America.

"The drug is popular and readily available for recreational use, either through medical marijuana dispensaries, where 18-year-olds can purchase cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation, often after a nudge-and-a-wink; or a black market that continues to thrive," writes the Chronicle.

The paper acknowledges the drawbacks of legalization, like the absence of a full-proof system to test for people driving under the influence of cannabis. 

It also points out the initiative is not the final word on legalization; it will be a work in progress because the initiative - if it's passed - can be amended by a two-thirds vote in the State Legislature. 

But the paper ultimately says the initiative should be passed, concluding that it has a solid framework, one which:

  • Legalizes marijuana use for adults 21 and older.
  • Requires licensing for cultivation and sale.
  • Establishes state excise tax of 15 percent on retail sales, and cultivation taxes of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Standard sales taxes also would apply.
  • Creates packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards.
  • Allows local governments to impose additional regulations and taxes on marijuana.
  • Provides resentencing consideration for prior marijuana convictions.
  • Leaves intact the medical marijuana system created by Prop. 215 in 1996.

h/t The San Francisco Chronicle.