Since the passage of Question 2 last year, some of us have engaged in an ongoing debate about the wisdom of permitting recreational marijuana sales in Carson City. At this moment, it seems the majority of the Carson City Board of Supervisors intend to exercise their right as our elected representatives to approve an ordinance permitting the sale of recreational pot at the city’s two existing medical marijuana dispensaries as a defense, ironically, against a long litany of adverse impacts outlined in the draft Business Impact Statement released on July 7.
As disenchanted as I am with this decision, I’m equally disheartened by the lack of participation in this important decision-making process by the 12,741 residents of Carson City who voted against this ill-conceived idea in the last election. Democracy is a participatory process and without the involvement of the people, elected officials have no choice but to substitute their own judgment for the judgment of those they represent. Apathy is the enemy of an open and honest discussion and whether you’re successful or not at changing the outcome of a vote by an elected body, you need to exercise your right to be heard.
On Aug. 3, the Board of Supervisors will consider the adoption on first reading of an ordinance to amend our zoning code to permit the retail sale of marijuana in Carson City. Now is the time to act on behalf of yourselves, your families and the health of your community.
Although the large urban areas of the state caused Question 2 to pass, Carson City isn’t legally obligated to change its zoning laws to accommodate the recreational sale of a drug that has caused a surge in visits to Colorado ERs and urgent care centers by marijuana-intoxicated teenagers; that has caused large Colorado businesses to hire out-of-state residents because of an inability to find workers who can pass the pre-employment drug test; and that has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of homeless people frequenting communities where pot is available for recreational consumption.
In an October 2016 survey of judges by the National Judicial College, an “overwhelming majority of the 260 judges who left comments said they opposed legalization” not for moral reasons but because “marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs.” Thirty of these respondents self-identified as drug-court judges. So, be wary of those who try to persuade you pot is benign. In the words of Thomas Paine, whose incendiary writings stoked the flames of the American Revolution, “A long habit of not thinking a thing is wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”
Laws matter, but in the absence of laws that make sense, public opinion matters. So, on Thursday, exercise the rights bequeathed to you by our founders — let your opinion be known.
Shelly Aldean is a former Carson City Supervisor and local business owner.