Guy W. Farmer: Kudos to Supervisors Bagwell and Barrette
July 15, 2017
I congratulate City Supervisors Lori Bagwell and John Barrette for standing on the tracks in front of a dangerous oncoming train called the Marijuana Express. That's what they did on July 6 when they voted against a measure allowing the commercialization of so-called "recreational" marijuana in Carson City. Good for them!
Mayor Bob Crowell and Supervisors Karen Abowd and Brad Bonkowski voted for the pernicious measure, however, so it passed on a 3-2 vote, which means recreational pot will go on sale in our town's two medical marijuana dispensaries in September. In my opinion, Mayor Bob and Bonkowski acted with undue haste while Ms. Abowd, to her credit, voiced reservations about marijuana "edibles" — candy, cookies and gummy bears that appeal to children. Nevertheless, she cast the deciding vote on this vital Carson City quality of life issue.
The mayor and two supervisors voted to commercialize marijuana in Carson even though Sheriff Ken Furlong and School Superintendent Richard Stokes spoke against the measure, as did most of the local citizens who attended the July 6 Board of Supervisors meeting. Furlong, who said his department was "overwhelmed" with calls involving booze and/or pot over the long Fouth of July weekend, explained too many people, including kids, thought recreational marijuana had become legal in Carson on July 1, which was false. In other words, legal pot is a law enforcement nightmare.
Mayor Bob, an attorney, talked a lot about the Rule of Law at the B.O.S. meeting, arguing because Nevada voters approved Question 2 legalizing recreational pot last November, we're obligated to follow state law and start selling weed right away. What he failed to mention, however, is 13 of 17 Nevada counties, including Carson, voted against Question 2. And speaking of the Rule of Law, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule One "dangerous drug," a decision reaffirmed by the Obama administration just last year.
Our mayor also neglected to mention our nearest neighbor, Douglas County, zoned out both kinds of legal marijuana, medical and recreational, and neighboring Lyon County may follow suit. So what was the rush to commercialize pot here in Carson? Might it have had something to do with anticipated tax revenues? Just wondering …
In addition to Sheriff Furlong and School Superintendent Stokes, several other well-informed citizens spoke out against the commercialization of recreational pot. Highly respected former Supervisor Shelly Aldean reiterated what she wrote in an Appeal op-ed piece. "If we as a community stand firm in our opposition to recreational marijuana … we control the narrative by countering the ill-advised notion that 'anything goes,'" she wrote, adding "the people of Carson City rejected recreational pot at the ballot box last November."
My friend Jim Hartman, a Genoa attorney who led the opposition to Question 2 last fall, points out "Nevada politicians (including Governor Sandoval) and the marijuana industry last December entered into an unholy alliance to fast-track the sale of recreational pot in our state." He told me Tax Department Director Deonne Contine eagerly joined the unholy alliance by unilaterally initiating an "early start" plan before receiving approval from her bosses at the Tax Commission. But don't worry, she hired four — count 'em, four — people to administer and enforce a complex new drug law.
And finally, the Carson Chamber of Commerce issued a statement last week expressing doubt about the Supes' decision to commercialize recreational pot. "Despite purported benefits, marijuana has adverse effects in the form of increased healthcare costs (and) increased violence … and may send the wrong message to kids." Amen!
Guy W. Farmer thinks marijuana is a dangerous drug.