They've been there before, and Wednesday, they returned to our state capitol. A group of advocates for legalizing marijuana is hoping the state of our economy will be their ticket in.
Nevadans For Sensible Marijuana Laws introduced a new ballot measure today to tax and regulate marijuana. The group believes this is the best pot measure that's ever been proposed in our state. The initiative would allow anyone over the age of 21 to buy, smoke, and transfer up to one ounce of marijuana, but they could not do so in public. Local drug prosecutors say they are wholeheartedly against the proposal.
The campaign manager for the pot proposal, Dave Schwartz, submitted the petition to the Secretary of State's office, the first step in a long process before the initiative could become law. He says for the first time, people are starting to think of legalizing pot as a way to make money in a time when it's desperately hard to come by.
"In conversations I've had with people across the state, this is something people see as, 'it's time,'" said Schwartz.
The initiative would allow 50 farmers across our state to grow and distribute marijuana to 120 different stores. Pot purchases would be heavily taxed--$50 dollars per ounce for wholesale, and standard sales tax for retail, all money that would go back into the state's General Fund.
"We're back with the same worn our reasons and excuses," said Washoe County District Attorney, Dick Gammick.
He says marijuana advocates will always find a way to twist and taint the issue, in order to do what they really want, which is legalize drugs. He says the initiative would de-criminalize a dangerous gateway drug will only encourage people to illegally grow their own pot in order to avoid taxes.
"We get our information from people who use drugs and their information to us is 'I started with Marijuana, then I moved onto meth, coke heroin, whatever,'" said Gammick.
"The majority of users to not go on to use other drugs. And as a matter of fact, in many studies, it's shown to be less addictive than caffeine is," argued Schwartz.
While the two groups may never agree, it'll be up to Nevada voters to decide.
When we randomly asked local residents what they thought, we received mixed reactions.
"Sure, gain some tax money. That's what they want, more money."
"If it's in the wrong hands, I don't know if it'd be a good idea or not."
To qualify for the 2012 ballot, the campaign needs to collect more than 97,000 signatures from Nevada voters by November of this year. While they say they'll have no problem finding enough people to back their issue, Dick Gammick says Nevada voters nixed the idea before and he believes they'll do so again.
The campaign manager says he does not have an estimate as to how much money the pot initiative could bring into our state, but he believes it would be substantial. Gammick says he doubts anyone would pay taxes for marijuana, if they could just as easily grow it themselves.