Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2006
Source: Las Vegas City Life (NV)
Copyright: 2006sLas Vegas City Life
Author: Patrick Killen
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


In Speaker of the Nevada Assembly/Henderson Police Chief Richard 
Perkins' recent column in CityLife [ "Do NOT rock the ganga!," Your 
Opinion, May 25], Perkins expresses some remarkably hostile 
sentiments in criticizing the initiative to tax and regulate 
marijuana in Nevada. He even tries to distract readers with baseless 
attacks and outright lies about both the initiative and our campaign 
manager, Neal Levine.

First and foremost, Perkins' personal attacks on Neal Levine are 
unwarranted. I know Neal and work with him every day. He doesn't 
smoke marijuana, and he's a devoted husband and father. He's 
sacrificing and working ungodly hours in support of the initiative. 
Like many, he recognizes that the war on marijuana is a miserable and 
expensive policy failure, and he's working hard to promote 
commonsense alternatives. Unfortunately, it appears Perkins doesn't 
know how to disagree without being disagreeable.

Our initiative is on the ballot because 86,000 Nevadans signed a 
petition to make it a reality. Like Neal, many citizens in our state 
recognize that marijuana prohibition isn't working and that anyone 
who wants to use marijuana can do so.

The best way to gain real control over marijuana use is to take it 
out of the criminal market and put it into a tightly regulated 
system. And the people of the Silver State will have a chance to vote 
on this proposal in November. Either we keep trying to make the 
failed system of prohibition work, or we start seeking sensible alternatives.

In his piece, Perkins relies on the baseless "gateway theory" to prop 
up a false link between marijuana and more dangerous drugs. It's not 
surprising, as Perkins asserts, that hard drug addicts have used 
marijuana. After all, it's the most widely available substance on the 
criminal market. But studies prove that using marijuana doesn't cause 
people to use heroin, crack or meth. Responsible, nonviolent 
marijuana users shouldn't be grouped with hard drug addicts, and we 
shouldn't be wasting resources citing, arresting or prosecuting them.

Perkins paints the picture that marijuana is extremely dangerous. 
Let's look at the numbers. Each year, 20,000 people die of alcohol 
overdoses. Over 400,000 people die from tobacco use. Yet, in 4,000 
years of recorded medical history, not one marijuana overdose has 
ever been reported. Perkins' arguments would be far more effective if 
he simply replaced the word "marijuana" with "alcohol" when talking 
about issues of societal harm. Marijuana is far less harmful than 
other substances currently controlled and regulated by our 
government, like alcohol and tobacco.

It should be noted that Perkins is advised by some of the most 
expensive political consultants in the state, yet he accuses us of 
being "big money interests." We'd rather put our trust in the people 
of Nevada to make the right choices for our state than a professional 
politician like Perkins. While elected officials like him may be 
unwilling to take a stand for real marijuana policy reform, the 
voters of our state see the complete failure of marijuana prohibition 
every day. We see a criminal market funneling money to violent gangs 
and drug dealers, who can sell marijuana anywhere, anytime, to 
customers of any age. We desperately need an alternative to our 
current failed marijuana laws, and we encourage our fellow Nevadans 
to vote in favor of a real solution this November: the taxation and 
regulation of marijuana.

Patrick Killen

Committee To Regulate And Control Marijuana
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman