Nevada attorney general opposes recreational marijuana

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Published: Aug. 25, 2016 at 8:55 PM PDT
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Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt voiced his opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana in Carson City before voters head to the polls Nov. 8 to make a final decision on the ballot initiative called Question 2.

Laxalt said, "None of us care if a 60-year-old baby boomer is smoking marijuana at home. That's not our concern as it relates to this ballot measure. Our biggest concern is this ballot initiative was written by major marijuana interests that their biggest concern is making money. This large initiative, that was written by no Nevadans, is imposed on the state. And now we're going to be in a reactive stance without the resources to protect our community and make our community safe. "

He was joined with others in law enforcement, including the Nevada Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Association, in formally opposing recreational marijuana in their state.

An organization called "The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol" is criticizing Laxalt and law enforcement officials for opposing the ballot measure.

Campaign spokesman Joe Brezney says they're throwing "...their support behind drug cartels and gangs instead of regulated Nevada businesses. Their position is no different than if they had come out in support of Al Capone and other leaders of organized crime toward the end of alcohol prohibition."

Laxalt says, "There's no provisions in this ballot initiative to keep edibles out of the hands of children. For those who are not familiar with edibles, marijuana is now infused in every product you can imagine. There's pot soda, there's something called pot tarts, most of you have heard about pot brownies. But there's also gummies, lollipops, you name it. Maybe they're tailored initially to adults, but we know their going to get into the hands of children. There have been many reported deaths and overdoses from children that unknowingly ingested edibles."

Brezny says he supports a debate about the kind of marijuana products allowed and how they should be marketed, but is totally against preventing recreational marijuana. He says this would punish adults who choose to use marijuana.

Will Adler, the political director for the campaign to vote yes on Question 2 said the regulations will actually keep the drugs away from kids.

"You can't even get access to a medical marijuana facility unless you have a medical marijuana card," he said. "Or once it becomes regulated, you're 21. And if you're not 21, you'll be turned away at the door. No drug dealer ID's a child. Nobody on the street will ID a child. We as an industry will because we have licenses that are granted by the state. If we step out of line, they can take it away."

Hartman says, "A second major concern to law enforcement is the near-certain increase in impaired drivers and fatal car crashes".

Laxalt says drugged driving increased dramatically in Colorado. Other local law enforcement officials say, we're already seeing increases here.

"We are seeing increases in Douglas County and other rural counties and throughout the state of the number of automobile collisions that are caused as a result of marijuana use," Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson said.

Washoe County District Attorney Christopher Hicks says in light of the increase in drunk driving accidents in Reno, people should be concerned about a legalized substance known to impair drivers.

"When you legalize a drug into a community, you put more impaired drivers on the roadways that we all have to travel," Hicks said. "That our loved ones have to travel. That our children have to travel. Why on earth would we want to legalize a drug that will increase the likelihood of these fatalities? That in and of itself should make every citizen who cares about their neighbors to vote no on Question 2."

The Gazette Newspaper in Colorado reported in 2015: In the first year marijuana was available at retail stores in Colorado, 94 people died in crashes where a driver involved tested positive for some amount of marijuana, according to the third-annual marijuana legalization impact study released by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. That's up from 71 in 2013, 78 in 2012 and 66 in 2011, the federal agency tasked with monitoring drug activity in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming found. Tom Gorman, director of Rocky Mountain HIDTA, said those numbers were collected from coroners, police and sheriffs across the state.

Nevada State Senator Patricia Spearman said, "I understand law enforcement officials trepidation regarding Question 2. I respectfully disagree. I believe our resources are stretched thin and voting 'Yes' on Question 2 will allow public safety officers to focus on criminal activity prevalent in our community. Equally, important is our opportunity to eliminate the income stream gangs and other nefarious people use to finance their illegal activities. Additionally, the current policy is fraught with significant racial disparities in enforcement over the years."

But Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says most people are not arrested for marijuana possession in and of itself.

"Very few people get arrested for mere simple possession," he said. "In every jurisdiction I'm aware of it's a citable offense. It is the other things going on in that environment, maybe it's a stolen property issue, it's a dispute that caused a physical altercation, it is other things."

Adler says he thinks it's time to try something new.

"We've seen zero results when it comes to access in schools or access on streets," he said. "Why not try something new? Why not try to regulate it, tax it, and use it for good rather than keeping the same old process going that hasn't worked."

Question 2 would make private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would establish a tightly regulated and licensed system of marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and distributors. The measure would establish a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales to pay for regulating the system and help fund K-12 education in Nevada. Adult-use marijuana sales would also be subject to state and local sales taxes, generating tens of millions of additional dollars.

Ohio's Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine led his state to an overwhelming 64-percent "no" defeat of legalizing recreational marijuana in November 2015.

Massachusetts Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey is working to defeat her State's push to legalize recreational marijuana.

Colorado's current attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, and her immediate predecessor, John Suthers, have been strong opponents of Colorado's commercial marijuana legalization and continue to speak out on the ongoing serious negative impacts in the Centennial State, including a continued "black market" presence and the fact that drug cartels are moving to Colorado to grow marijuana to sell outside the state.