Legalize pot? Not so fast | NevadaAppeal.com

Legalize pot? Not so fast

Nevada Appeal editorial board

The speed at which pro-marijuana forces are trying to liberalize Nevada’s laws is enough to make us dizzy.

From one of the strictest anti-marijuana states to legalization in two years? We don’t think Nevadans will stand for it, and they shouldn’t because it’s a bad idea.

A group called Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement has successfully collected signatures to put the issue to a vote in November. With 74,740 names, they met the test in 14 of the state’s 17 counties — including Carson City, but not Douglas County.

We don’t begrudge them the public vote, because that’s their right. But we can’t see any good coming from legalization of possession of up to 3 ounces of pot by anyone over the age of 21.

We opposed medical marijuana in Nevada because we feared it was simply the first step toward legalization.

It’s hard to tell cancer sufferers and others who get relief from severe, debilitating diseases by smoking marijuana that they are breaking the law. But while the anecdotal evidence seemed plentiful, the scientific proof was slim. And we were more worried about eroding Nevada’s tough anti-pot stance.

The next time we checked, the 2001 Legislature was reducing pot possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Again, we protested.

The argument seemed to be that judges weren’t slapping felonies on first-time offenders anyway. So why bother having a felony law? Because judges and prosecutors need tools to fight crime and protect society.

Some marijuana users, we’ll concede, may be doing harm only to themselves. Others, though, can be a definite threat to the well-being of the people around them. We like to give judges the ability to distinguish between the two.

The Legislature went ahead and lowered the charge, and now along comes the legalization vote. We think that pretty much proves our initial concerns were well-founded.

In addition to our basic belief that marijuana should remain a controlled substance, the proposal would allow for possession of up to 3 ounces — a substantial amount. Add to that the fact marijuana possession remains a federal offense, and there are plenty of reasons for voters to turn down legalization of marijuana.