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Local reaction to voter approval of Prop 64

Many voters say it’s about time Californians legalized recreational marijuana.

Proposition 64 passed by a 12 percent margin; 56 percent to 44 percent.

But if you’re hoping the legal high will help launch you into a new career, you’ll have to wait a while.

Californians — 21 and older — can now legally possess, grow, smoke or chew their way into an altered state with recreational marijuana, effective immediately.

“I’m not surprised California voters voted yes for Prop 64,” said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. “I think that was in the works for awhile.”

However, Sacramento won’t begin the process for licensing provisions for recreational marijuana dispensaries until January of 2018.

Schneider said she’s pleased voters approved a tax to go along with it, ensuring the city is compliant with state law for personal use and once the industry is up and running.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown for his reaction to the passage of Prop 64.

He issued the following statement:

“I am disappointed that Proposition 64 passed and very concerned that it will have a negative impact on public safety, but the people of California have spoken. We in law enforcement must accept that, and we must work rapidly with the scientific community and the legislature to develop, implement and enforce a presumptive standard of marijuana intoxication while driving. Within the confines of the law we will also continue enforcement efforts against those who grow, transport and sell marijuana and other drugs illegally.”

Overall, NewsChannel 3 found mixed reaction among local residents.

“I did not vote for it,” Mary Stern said. “I don’t feel like we need another legal drug.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Savannah Mesch. “I think it’ll lower crime rates and make people less paranoid about it and lessen the stigma around it.”

“I think it’s going to be great for the economy, too,” said Joel Johnstone.

“I have no problem with it,” said Barbara Carrington. “I voted for it.”

“Oh who cares,” laughed Sy Lyon. “I always though it was anyway. Nobody cares about it!”

But that’s not necessarily true.

Some of the major challenges associated with legal pot, as we’ve learned from Colorado, are pesticides, edibles and keeping marijuana-infused gummies and treats away from minors.

“We want to hear from our residents about what’s the balancing act to make sure that there’s safe access, that there’s good public safety and that it’s not overrun in every part of town, but we can have some real good local control,” said Mayor Schneider.

The mayor says a network of stakeholders from healthcare professionals and law enforcement to ag businesses and the public will help pave the way.

She anticipates the start to that conversation sometime in early 2017.

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