Pubdate: Sat, 06 Apr 2013
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2013 Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: Ed Vogel
Page: 3B


Assemblyman Sees Economic Benefits to State While Police Officers
Point to Dangers

CARSON CITY - In a sometimes contentious legislative hearing Friday,
Las Vegas physician Stephen Frye called marijuana a wonder drug that
helps stop cancer, does not impair driving and should be available for
all adults to enjoy.

But a line of police officers disagreed with him and urged members of
the Assembly Judiciary Committee to reject Assembly Bill 402.

The bill sought by Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, calls for
legalizing marijuana for people 21 and older. Cosponsor Assemblyman
Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, testified that legalizing pot could
produce $470 million a year in tax revenue that would be earmarked for
education spending.

"This is a game changer for the state," Martin testified. "Whether we
legalize it or not, the market is here. If we don't, the money goes up
in smoke."

His tax assumption was based on 11.2 percent of Nevadans and visitors
buying marijuana at rates of $100 to $300 an ounce. But the bill would
allow residents to grow up to six marijuana plants in a locked place.

No action was taken on the bill, which must pass out of the committee
by April 12, or it is considered dead.

Colorado and Washington state voters approved recreational marijuana
in November, but no state Legislature ever has legalized the
recreational use of drug.

Few members of the committee gave an indication of their views on the
bill, other than Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, who challenged
comments by Frye, a Democrat who lost a bid for Congress in 2012.

Frye made statements such as "marijuana kills cancer cells," "this is
lifesaving treatment," "now we have an opportunity to provide this
incredible medicine to our citizens," "driving under the influence of
marijuana is not more dangerous than driving under the influence of
orange juice."

Frye said in an interview that while no one should drive under the
influence of either marijuana or alcohol, the number of total
fatalities would drop if people only were driving under the influence
of marijuana. He said American and New Zealand studies support his

The bill would allow people to use marijuana only in private places,
but not drive under its influence.

North Las Vegas police officer Tom Bedwell called Frye's statement
about marijuana drivers "somewhat ludicrous." He said a legal
marijuana law would not eliminate dealers in the black market, who
instead would go after children.

Chuck Callaway, a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Police Department,
also challenged Frye.

"I have seen the destructive impact of drug abuse and drug addiction,"
he said "We believe if this bill passes, it will contribute to that."

Reno police also challenged Frye. They noted a motorcycle officer on
the verge of retirement was killed in 2002 by a woman high on
marijuana who was not driving properly. The officer left behind four

Other than Hansen, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardernville, expressed
opposition to the bill. In particular, he challenged a Retail
Association of Nevada poll that found 56 percent of residents support
legal marijuana. Wheeler quipped that some polls showed Mitt Romney
winning the presidency.

Rather than having the Legislature implement legal marijuana, Wheeler
said the supporters should put it before voters through an initiative

In the 2006 election, 44 percent of residents backed a legal marijuana
question. In 2002, 39 percent supported it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt