A question on the upcoming ballot asking voters to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in Nevada may seem simple, but a local attorney is urging residents to take a closer look to understand all the possible implications.
“It’s a 13-page initiative that was written by the marijuana industry,” said Jim Hartman, a semi-retired Genoa lawyer. “It protects the industry while doing a disservice to Nevadans. It never went through the legislative process. It hasn’t been vetted. It’s tremendously skewed toward the industry.”
Working with Partnership Carson City, Hartman is compiling a presentation to give to area service groups and other organizations to explain the details of the ballot question.
“If people are going to vote for this, I want them to know what they’re getting,” Hartman said. “Our challenge is to make sure people have the full picture, the accurate picture.”
He said people are approaching it from a philosophical perspective when they should be looking at the specifics of the proposed law.
He pointed to a similar law in Colorado, which allows counties and municipalities to “opt out.”
“Only 22 of 64 counties have legalized establishments, and 62 of 271 towns and cities permit it,” he said. “In 70 percent of Colorado, recreational marijuana isn’t legal. The industry was upset by that.”
If the initiative passes, the Nevada Department of Taxation would be tasked with processing applications and licenses as well as issuing regulations.
“The local governments would have no input,” Hartman said. “And the Department of Taxation, as it is currently constituted, is ill-equipped to do this.”
He said counties would be mandated to create a certain number of stores, based on population — 80 in Clark County, 20 in Washoe and two in rural counties.
“We are going to have government-run marijuana in the state of Nevada were it to pass,” Hartman said.
He said it will also limit an individual’s ability to grow the drug.
“In Section 6, it says people can possess one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants, but Section 14 says you can only grow the plant yourself if there is not a store within 25 miles,” Hartman explained. “They made sure there will be a store within 25 miles, so 95 to 98 percent of Nevadans have a promise made to them that’s taken away.”
Kathy Bartosz, director of Partnership Carson City, added that more education is also warranted when it comes to marijuana itself.
“When people think of marijuana, they think of a joint,” Bartosz said. “With edibles and other marijuana products now, it’s a whole different world in terms of potency. It’s alarmingly different with overdoses and emergency room visits. It’s a lot to worry about.”
She said it is being packaged and sold to look like popular treats — such as Pop Tarts and Kit Kats — that have up to nine servings of THC in each. It has led to overdoses and THC toxicity in other parts of the nation, Bartosz said.
“Once edibles become more prolific, you’re going to see more of that in Carson City,” Bartosz said.
Groups interested in the presentation can contact Partnership Carson City at 775-841-4730.