Legalizing Marijuana

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Religious leaders joined proponents of question seven in a news conference in Reno Tuesday. If passed by voters this November, question seven would legalize the sale of one ounce of marijuana to people at least 21.

Reverend Ruth Hanusa, ELCA chaplain at the UNR Campus Christian Association, said current marijuana laws "waste good taxpayer dollars, and by passing ballot seven, we would free up some of those resources to provide more good services in our communities."

Some speakers at the media event said current laws are not proving successful because young people have access to marijuana anyway.

"My children confirmed what the data shows -- that marijuana is easier for them to obtain than alcohol because drug dealers don't card," Reverend Paul Hansen said.

"Our marijuana laws fund the activities of gangs and drug dealers who solve disputes with intimidation and violence," another member of the faith community said.

Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick said marijuana is often a "gateway drug" -- people use it, then move on to other drugs.

"We have found it to be a gateway drug in 85 percent of our cases," Gammick said.

"Marijuana use among our younger people is actually down, and it's some of these programs we have going... Just Say No, DARE and some of the other education programs are having some effect," Gammick added.

According to an Online question seven ad, marijuana would be allowed to be purchased from state-licensed retailers, and could be taxed.

"We're not talking about putting marijuana into the 7-11," Neal Levine, a question seven proponent, said.

According to the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana, question seven would also "double the maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or any drug," a news release stated.

Still, Gammick said if question seven passes, it could open the floodgates to legalizing other drugs.

"That is their philosophy and that's where they're going," Gammick said.