Health board opposes ballot question to legalize marijuana

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The state Health Board voted Friday to strongly oppose Ballot Question 9, which if approved by voters Nov. 5 , would legalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana in Nevada.

The board took the vote after hearing from a gallery of opponents from individual citizens to counseling, prevention and treatment groups as well as Clark County prosecutors and noted that no one spoke in favor of legalization at the hearing.

Deputy Clark County District Attorney Gary Booker said the 3 ounces the ballot question would allow an individual to possess is enough pot for 250 marijuana cigarettes.

He said new, highly cultivated varieties of the drug are much more powerful than they were 20 years ago, causing addiction and psychotic behavior. He said it would cause serious problems with drivers under the influence.

Booker was joined by a long list of spokesmen from different treatment centers and anti-drug advocates who said marijuana is no longer a harmless, non-addictive drug, but a serious problem sending more and more people to treatment.

Theresa Lemus of Nevada AADAPTS, a statewide alliance of treatment programs, said Question 9 approval would overload a system that already has capacity for only half those needing drug treatment.

Roxane Clark-Murphy, the municipal court coordinator in Las Vegas, said marijuana has become "an insidious drug," which she sees all too often in court cases.

Tom Murtha of the Department of Corrections substance-abuse programs said drugs are responsible directly or indirectly for the problems of more than 70 percent of those in Nevada's prisons. He said the majority of those inmates say their first illegal drug was marijuana.

"And the situation is only going to get worse if we approve this," he said of the ballot question.

The health board approved a resolution saying, "Question 9 represents a clear and present danger to the public safety and health of Nevadans."

Chairman Joey Villaflor urged those who spoke on the issue to "mobilize your friends, your neighbors, your community against this."


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