HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html DA's Drug Cartel Remark Angers Pot-initiative Official
Pubdate: Mon, 07 Oct 2002
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Cy Ryan, Sun Capital Bureau
Cited: Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement ( )
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Nevadans for Responsible Law 
Bookmark: (Question 9 (NV))


CARSON CITY -- A chief deputy district attorney in Clark County has 
suggested a drug cartel is behind the effort to legalize possession of up 
to 3 ounces of marijuana in Nevada.

But a spokesman who is pushing approval of the constitutional amendment 
called the statement of prosecutor Gary Booker "an outright lie, slanderous 
and libelous."

Billy Rogers, spokesman for Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, said 
Booker "ought to have his mouth washed out with soap."

Booker and more than 15 other witnesses appeared before the state Board of 
Health Friday to urge its opposition to Question 9 on the November ballot. 
The board agreed, saying the legalization of marijuana was a "clear and 
present danger to the public safety and health" of Nevada.

The witnesses included a Las Vegas mother whose son is in prison for 
committing murder while under the influence of marijuana and cocaine, a 
mother who said her baby almost died from second-hand marijuana smoke and a 
former user who said he hallucinated on the drug.

Rogers, who represents the group that gathered the signatures that put the 
question on the ballot, was not invited to testify.

Board chairman Dr. Joey Villaflor said the legalization would lead to more 
young children using the drug and would increase traffic accidents and 
domestic violence cases. He said because of impurities, marijuana would be 
a 'health hazard" and increase the problems of those who suffered from 
chronic lung illnesses.

Booker, chief of the Clark County district attorney's Vehicular Crimes 
Unit, suggested the marijuana campaign was tied to people connected with 
organized crime -- "In a word 'cartel.' "

Booker said the proposal "has nothing to do with medical marijuana."

"It would put the state in the business of drug peddling," he said, adding 
that it would cause a "major mess" on the highways with people driving 
under the influence of marijuana.

Rogers, who took offense at Booker's remark about ties to organized crime, 
said the prosecutor has "a long record of lying" about the proposition.

He said Booker gave out false information that marijuana seeds were 
available from the state Department of Agriculture for those who are in 
medical need, that Rogers smoked marijuana and that the proposed amendment 
would abolish all drunken driving laws.

"This guy (Booker) will say anything to scare people," Rogers said. He 
suggested Booker's superiors "put a muzzle on him" because he is hurting 
their cause with lies.

The initiative, Rogers said, is about protecting people in their own homes 
and those under a doctor's care.

It would ban smoking of marijuana while driving or driving under the 
influence of the drug, he said. It would also allow the state to license 
and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults.

So far his campaign has spent $1 million, which includes about $400,000 for 
gathering signatures on the initiative petition, he said. And he predicted 
the election would be close.

Villaflor said it was a well funded organization to gain passage of 
Question 9. He urged those who attended the Friday meeting to mobilize 
friends, neighbors, church members and others in a fight to defeat the issue.

Some of the most compelling testimony to the health board came from those 
who told of witnessing the problems of marijuana firsthand.

Roxane Clark Murphy of Las Vegas said her son is in prison for killing 
someone while under the influence of marijuana and cocaine. She called it 
an "insidious" drug whose use is increasing.

Cindy Ogden told of her estranged husband and his friends smoking marijuana 
with their 1-year-old baby in the room. She said her child inhaled the 
second-hand smoke and would not wake up for hours until after hospital 

"If you want to put a kid to sleep, blow a little marijuana smoke in his 
face," said Ogden of Las Vegas. "I thought I had lost him. We're not 
thinking of children in the home."

Bill Paskevicius of Las Vegas said he smoked marijuana and "I hallucinated 
on it." He said he was not a good driver but he would stop at green lights 
while under the influence.

Tom Murtha, director of substance abuse programs at the state prison, said 
60 percent to 80 percent of the 10,000 inmates have had drugs problems and 
most of them tell you it started with marijuana. Even if the drug is 
legalized, he said there would be a black market for it.

"A bad situation will only get worse," Murtha said.

Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno, the only legislator who attended the 
meeting, said passage of Question 9 "would send a terrible message to our 
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