Why Question 9 is bad for Nevada
October 9, 2002
On Nov. 5, you will have an opportunity to vote on ballot Question 9, which is an initiative relating to “allow the use and possession of three ounces or less of marijuana by persons aged 21 years or older, to require the Legislature to provide or maintain penalties for using, distributing, selling or possessing marijuana under certain circumstances, and to provide a system of regulation for cultivation, taxation, sale and distribution of marijuana.”
If passed by the voters, this initiative would amend our state’s constitution and Nevada would be the first state in the America to pass the legalization of marijuana. However, uniquely enough, it would be in direct violation of federal and international drug treaties and our state will be subject to sanctions and the risk of federal prosecution.
Setting aside the legal issues, our state will suffer far-reaching and negative impacts and public safety will be threatened.
The members of the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association and the Nevada District Attorney’s Association unamously voted “against” supporting this initative and they are now attempting to educate the voters that the passage of this law would lead to increased drug usage with the anticipation of increased criminal activity.
The following are just a few reasons why this initiative must be defeated:
— Marijuana is a “gateway drug.” It is a proven fact that kids who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana smokers. In Washoe County, 84 percent of individuals referred to Drug Court started with marijuana.
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— According to U.S.Drug Enforcement Director Asa Hutchinson, 225,000 Americans entered substance abuse treatment primarily for marijuana dependence in 1999.
— Health insurance, liability insurance, and lawsuits against employers will increase significantly as results of accidents, injuries, and death attributed to marijuana use by employees. Drug using employees have a 300 percent higher medical cost than non-users.
— In Southern Nevada, 41.2 percent of those arrested for domestic violence tested positive for marijuana; 31.8 percent of those arrested for violent crimes tested positive for marijuana and 34.4 percent of those arrested for property crimes tested positive for marijuana
— According to the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, marijuana causes long term effects to include a) harmful effects to respiratory systems (similar to the same breathing problems that tobacco users experience, including bronchitis and emphysema), b) cancer: marijuana contains more cancer-causing agents than found in tobacco smoke, c) reproductive system: marijuana can effect male and female hormones, diminish or extinguish sexual pleasure, and cause a temporary loss in fertility and cause irregular menstrual cycles for women, and d) immune system: THC can damage the cells and tissues that help guard against disease
— Since this initiative would also change Nevada’s driving under the influence laws, drivers would be permitted to drive under the influence of marijuana as long as they were not “driving dangerously.” Currently, there is no way to determine the “level of intoxication” from marijuana use as there is with alcohol.
You may be asking yourself who is behind this initiative? According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, $575,000.00 was contributed to the Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement from the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. Nevadans contributed only $275.
MPP is supporting the legalization of marijuana in other states also, including Arizona, California, and Washington and has spent almost $20 million on their efforts nationwide. Billionaire George Soros, and two millionaires, John Sperling of Phoenix and Peter Lewis of Cleveland, have made substantial donations to support this ill-conceived initiative. Obviously, this is not a Nevada “grass roots” campaign.
This initiative should not be confused with the passing of a Nevada law in 2001 allowing individuals to use marijuana for medical reasons. In some of the publicized literature produced by MPP, they allude to the medical benefits of marijuana in an effort to gain support and confuse voters.
I encourage you to vote “no” on Question 9. By voting “no,” we send a strong and clear message to our youth that we support law enforcement’s effort to provide a drug free and safe environment in our community.
Ronald P. Pierini is sheriff of Douglas County.
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