Fred LaSor: Question 2: Vote ‘NO’
One question that will appear on Nevada’s ballot this year is a proposed amendment to current Nevada law that would allow “purchase, cultivation, possession or consumption” of “certain amounts” of marijuana or its concentrate to persons 21 years of age or older. “Certain amounts” is defined as one ounce of Marijuana or an eighth ounce of cannabis concentrate.
This is a pernicious amendment its supporters claim will merely legalize activity that’s already taking place, and by doing so, empty our jails and generate tax revenue.
The argument in favor of the question claims passage would regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana in a manner similar to regulations on alcohol. It promises to bring into the light of day an activity that’s wide-spread and, they claim, not really harmful. One of the ads currently being broadcast calls on voters to “do this for veterans,” as if veterans were the largest consumers of marijuana. Another promises to reduce prison populations substantially and generate millions in revenue for education.
As is the case with Question 1, this proposal is being energized and funded largely from outside Nevada, apparently in the belief nationwide acceptance of the drug might require 50 small campaigns, and the Silver State is a good place to start because it’s similar to Colorado: it’s a mostly rural state that’s politically conservative but trending liberal and is currently home to a growing population of transplanted Californians.
The bill doesn’t specifically say it favors industrial-scale grow and production facilities, but if implemented as proposed it would clearly move us in that direction. Ma and Pa’s three-plant “grow” out behind the chicken coop would be replaced by large operations with expensive climate control, massive security, and sophisticated distribution networks. Individual counties in the state couldn’t “opt out,” as they could in Colorado, presumably because the organizers behind this effort want to monopolize the entire operation: production, distribution, marketing and sales. Every commercial enterprise dreams of such a sweetheart deal; few can get it written into state law.
The high level of psychoactivity of the new designer strains of marijuana has been detailed extensively elsewhere. Suffice it to say this isn’t the pot that was being passed around at Woodstock or on the sidewalks of Haight-Ashbury during the summer of love in the 1960s. It’s tens of times stronger and the means of delivery no longer involves smoking some crushed leaves rolled crudely in a cigarette paper. It’s now being eaten as candies that look like the gummy bears your kids clamor for, or “vaped” (vaporized) easily in various electronic devices that deliver a quick and powerful “high.” These drug delivery methods are readily accessible to infants and children who stumble on their parents’ stash.
Nor do we know the effects of various levels of mental impairment from marijuana consumption. We have a legally-defined blood alcohol level above which a driver can be removed from public highways, but we can’t even test quickly and accurately for psychomotor impairment due to cannabis. Even if we could, we don’t know where to draw the line.
There are too many good arguments against Question 2 to explore fully in one short opinion column. For me, the convincing one is this drive is created and funded from out of state by interests who hope to legalize and dominate what in other states would be a criminal enterprise. Many of their arguments are dishonest or misleading, like the increased funding for education, something that won’t happen because other state activities regarding cannabis commerce will need funds first. Please vote NO on Question 2.
Fred LaSor follows political and economic developments from his home in the Carson Valley.