Pubdate: Wed, 19 Oct 2016
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2016 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Note: This is second part of editorial


There are several ways to measure the failure of the War on Drugs,
starting with its role in sending a grossly disproportionate number of
African-Americans to prison.

Not far down the list is how the initiative affected marijuana supply
and demand. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in expenditures
and decades of effort on drug eradication, millions of Americans
continue to use the drug.

Look it up. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most
recent year available, shows that 22.2 million Americans had used the
drug within the past month when they were surveyed. Compared to 2002,
marijuana use was up among all age groups survey save for one: 12- to
17-year-olds. Among the U.S. population of 18- to 25-year-olds, 22
percent were users.

It's time to try something else, and that's decriminalizing
recreational use of the drug.

Regulating the growth and distribution of marijuana will give
responsible adults a legal way to obtain the drug, will yield tax
revenue and will allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.

It's also led to the creation of thousands of jobs in states where
it's been adopted, and it would no doubt do the same here.

With the benefits come some concerns, including how legalizing the
drug might make it more available to children and how it might affect
public safety, particularly on roads.

On the issue of availability to minors, a positive sign comes from
Colorado, where the largest study of youth in the state showed that
teen use had declined since the state legalized it in 2013. As to the
concern about traffic fatalities, studies have shown an increase in
the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents in Colorado and
Washington who had marijuana in their systems, but those studies did
not indicate whether the drivers were at fault or were impaired.

Other issues raised by opponents can and should be examined by the
Legislature should the ballot measure pass. Among them, the state
should follow Colorado's lead and pass legislation banning products
sold in the form of people, animals or fruit, which children could
mistake for candy.

Nevada is in good position to legalize, as it can craft responsible
policy modeled on that of other states that have dealt with unintended
consequences of decriminalizing the drug. We also know a thing or two
about regulation, having set standards for oversight of the gaming

Finally, the state has already taken steps toward legalization without
the sky falling. In 2000, lawmakers downgraded possession of less than
an ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, and the state
successfully launched a medical marijuana industry in recent years.

Don't misunderstand us: legalization won't be all silver lining and no
cloud. It won't eliminate the black market for the drug, and it will
require a massive expansion of the state's marijuana regulation system.

But it will reduce demand for illegal sellers' products, helping take
the drug out of the alley and into regulated and taxed shops.

That's a step in the right direction - and a step away from the
disastrous War on Drugs.

Editor's note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the
Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis
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MAP posted-by: Matt