When it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana use in Nevada, Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill, R-Carson City, is asking voters to just say “no.”
“I’ve lived in Nevada half of my life,” he said. “This is my state. I do not want a state that takes that slippery slope.”
O’Neill was the featured presenter at Partnership Carson City’s Community Action Agency Network meeting at the Carson City Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
He said his 40 years in law enforcement, including working in undercover narcotics during the 1970s and 80s in Miami, showed him the dangers of drug abuse. He urged attendees to speak out against Question 2 on November’s ballot seeking to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
He pointed to statistics provided by Smart Approaches to Marijuana stating one in six teens will become addicted to marijuana as will one in 11 adults.
“Marijuana has become significantly more potent since the 1960s,” he said. “And it comes with undesirable social effects.”
Craig Lagier, chaplain for the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, said he has seen first-hand where drug abuse can lead people.
“Working with the homeless on the street, I’m running into drugs constantly,” Lagier told the group during the discussion portion of the meeting. “Every one of these guys I talk to, guys that are shooting up heroin, I ask them how they got started. Every single one of them started with the recreational use of marijuana.”
Kathy Bartosz, executive director of Carson City, said youth are receiving a mixed message when it comes to marijuana use.
“When they see it sold as medicine, they think it’s good for you,” she said. “What they see and what they’re hearing is contradictory. Children need to see us fighting on their behalf.”
O’Neill explained recreational marijuana can be sold as “edibles” in food and drink, which is a higher concentration of THC and more easily marketed to children and teens.
“Marijuana-related poisonings are up in Washington,” he said. “They’ve had quite an increase in overdoses and deaths by accidental use in children.”
Sheriff Ken Furlong said marijuana can be as harmful to society as any drug.
“Meth, marijuana, heroin, burglary, theft, home invasion, they’re all synonyms of each other,” he said.
State school board trustee and former state assemblyman Pat Hickey now serves as the Nevada coordinator for Smart Approaches to Marijuana. He said the drug has the backing of corporations and advertising agencies, similar to tobacco 20 years ago.
“It’s big business behind all of this,” he said.
He pointed out Colorado took 12 years to finesse the procedure between the legalization of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.
“It may be inevitably coming,” Hickey said. “I hope we have he wisdom to vote this down.”