Pubdate: Fri, 07 Nov 2014
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2014 Las Vegas Review-Journal


Recreational Marijuana Coming to Nevada

Republicans weren't the only ones living the high life on Election 
Day. Proponents of legalized, recreational marijuana also were big 
winners, with decriminalization measures passing in Oregon, Alaska 
and Washington, D.C. Nevada could be the next state to join them. 
Oregon's ballot measure passed Tuesday night with 54 percent of the 
vote, creating the country's third legal market for recreational 
marijuana (Colorado and Washington state voters passed similar 
measures in 2012). Oregon residents 21 and older can now possess and 
grow marijuana. Hours later, Alaska became the fourth state, with 52 
percent of voters approving a measure to tax and regulate the 
production, sale and use of marijuana, making its use legal for 
people 21 and older. Florida voters narrowly rejected recreational 
marijuana despite providing majority support - that state's measure 
required 60 percent of the vote to pass but received 58 percent.

Time reported that Washington, D.C., passed a "soft legalization" 
measure, with nearly 70 percent voting in favor. The city won't have 
a regulated market, but it will be legal for residents 21 and older 
to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants 
at home, as well as give 1 ounce of marijuana to someone else, 
without payment. Selling pot remains a crime, yet that has done 
nothing to deter sales.

This week's marijuana votes set the stage for even more pot 
petitions. USA Today reports that marijuana legalization advocates 
are advancing similar decriminalization initiatives in 10 other 
states, and that voters in Nevada, California, Arizona, Maine and 
Massachusetts could see recreational marijuana questions on their 2016 ballots.

In Nevada, marijuana petitioners have been collecting signatures for 
months, needing 101,667 registered voters by next week to push the 
measure forward. Should they meet that threshold, the initiative will 
go before the 2015 Legislature. If that happens, the 
Republican-controlled body should approve it. But if the Legislature 
rejects it or ignores it, the initiative would go before voters in 2016.

It will pass. As with gay marriage, public opinion has shifted on 
recreational marijuana. Polls show a majority of Americans recognize 
the futility of prohibition and would rather see governments collect 
taxes on the sale of the drug. Of course, excessive taxation defeats 
the purpose of decriminalization because it keeps prices artificially 
high, which ensures criminals remain in business.

State by state legalization of marijuana use is a step forward. But 
it would be far better if Congress got out of its haze and removed 
marijuana from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. The war 
on drugs in general, and specifically marijuana, has been a colossal 
failure at tremendous cost. reports that nearly 730,000 
people have been arrested on suspicion of marijuana offenses this 
year, but 89 percent of those suspects are charged only with 
possession. Since President Richard Nixon officially declared the war 
on drugs in 1971, we've spent more than $1 trillion investigating, 
prosecuting and locking up nonviolent offenders. There has been no 
reduction in American demand for illegal drugs.

Nevada's first medical marijuana dispensaries will open soon, which 
should help smooth the road for eventual recreational sales. 
Legalizing marijuana would allow Nevada to help lead the country away 
from one of its most expensive mistakes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom