Drive to legalize pot in Nevada starts Wednesday |

Drive to legalize pot in Nevada starts Wednesday

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau
Jonah M. Kessel/Tahoe Daily TribuneA medical marijuana patient exhales smoke Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

The group Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws will file a ballot initiative Wednesday to legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older.

Campaign manager Dave Schwartz plans to file the petition with the Secretary of State’s office, which is required before he can circulate a ballot petition in Nevada.

In order to qualify for the 2012 ballot, Schwartz said the campaign needs to collect 97,002 valid signatures of Nevada voters by November 2010.

He described the petition as carefully drafted, saying it is “the best marijuana-related initiative ever proposed.”

“We are determined to use every interaction with Nevada residents to educate them about one simple fact: Marijuana, by every objective measure, is a safer substance than alcohol,” he said in announcing the drive.

He said organizers will ask voters to consider that and “decide for themselves whether it makes sense to allow adults to use alcohol freely but punish them if they choose to use a less harmful substance, marijuana.”

Their proposal would not only legalize the use of marijuana for adults but establish a tax system to generate revenue from pot.

A similar proposal was defeated in the 2006 election. The group didn’t bring a petition in the 2008 campaign, instead fighting against the Legislature’s new law requiring a minimum number of signatures in each of Nevada’s 17 counties to qualify a petition for the ballot. The group, joined by the ACLU, argued successfully before U.S. District Judge Phil Pro that law was unconstitutional because it would allow a few voters in a tiny county to block the will of the majority of Nevadans.

The new law passed by the 2009 Legislature instead mandates a certain percentage of signatures from each of Nevada’s congressional districts, which advocates of the initiative system say should pass constitutional muster.