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Marijuana Law: Further Loosening Sought

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Jul 3, 2002.

  1. By Ed Vogel, Review-Journal Capital Bureau
    Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Until last October, Nevada had the strictest marijuana law in the nation. Puffing on a single joint could give a user a felony criminal record and land him in prison for at least a year.
    Such measures were rarely, if ever, taken, and the law didn't stop Nevadans from approving the use of medical marijuana in 2000. Nor did it prevent a state lawmaker from introducing and getting passed a law making possession of less than 1 ounce a misdemeanor.

    Now, Nevadans might vote this fall to loosen the pot prohibition law even more, essentially giving the state the most relaxed marijuana law in America.

    That's because the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, was able to collect signatures of 109,000 Nevada voters on a petition that seeks to legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana.

    If enough signatures are found valid, the question would be put to voters this November and again in 2004.

    No state now has such a relaxed marijuana law. Ohio, New York, Maine, Mississippi and Nebraska now require police only to issue citations for people possessing small amounts of marijuana. Offenders pay small fines, usually $100.

    But the Marijuana Policy Project wants Nevada voters to approve a constitutional amendment to prohibit police from arresting people with fewer than 3 ounces of marijuana. There also would be no civil penalties to be paid.

    It still would be illegal for minors to possess the drug, and driving under the influence laws would still hold. It also still would be illegal to use marijuana in public places. A distribution system also would be set up to provide low-cost medical marijuana.

    Billy Rogers, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, won't say why his organization selected Nevada as the first state to launch its effort. Nevada was also first among states to legalize gambling and remains the only state with legal prostitution, albeit only in rural counties.

    "Obviously we have done some research," Rogers said. "We know most people in Nevada don't think people should be arrested and sent to prison for small amounts. Most people think it is a waste of tax dollars for law enforcement to go after people with small amounts of marijuana."

    He cited a recent national poll that found 61 percent of respondents believe police should not devote time to dealing with minor marijuana offenders.

    Consequently, Rogers' group set up a state organization called Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, charged with collecting signatures for the marijuana petition. He said the group spent more than $300,000 to collect more than 109,000 signatures in a 40-day period that ended June 18.

    Getting on the ballot in Nevada is easier than other states, he added. Most states, particularly those in the East, don't allow people to collect signatures on petitions to amend the constitution or change a state law.

    Rogers is confident the petition drive was successful. County clerks and election registrars have until July 8 to verify the signatures are accurate. The group needs only 61,336 valid signatures to put the proposal before voters.

    Because the group seeks to amend the state constitution, the proposal must be approved by voters twice.

    And past votes by Nevadans have reflected a tolerant approach to marijuana use. State voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana twice: 59 percent of voters backed the plan in 1998 and 65 percent approved it in 2000.

    Following the second vote, Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill to set up a medical marijuana program and to relax the state's marijuana possession laws. Currently, 185 people with medical problems have been given state permits to grow up to seven marijuana plants.

    Cecile Crofoot, who manages the medical marijuana program, said law enforcement agencies have not had any problems with participants abusing the program. Users cannot have more than 1 ounce of usable marijuana in their possession at any time.

    But she said the complaint she hears from almost every legal user is they find it difficult to grow marijuana.

    Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Stan Olsen said police in Las Vegas have not taken an official stance on the latest marijuana petition, but probably will oppose it.

    "Three ounces is quite a bit," said Olsen, the department's legislative lobbyist. "If we legalize it, what is next? A lot of people don't use drugs now because they are illegal and they stand to lose in their personal or professional lives if they use."

    Olsen said he is worried that if pot use became legal, people would drive under the influence of the drug, regardless of restrictions.

    Giunchigliani, however, backs the latest initiative.

    "It follows right in line with what I did last session," she said. "There was no outcry over what I did. My law decriminalizes it, but there still are fines. Marijuana is not a gateway drug that leads to cocaine and heroin. The public is a lot wiser than we give them credit for."

    Her law makes possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana a misdemeanor. Offenders can be fined as much as $600, but are not subject to any jail time.

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said that new law, which went into effect Oct. 1, makes Nevada one of 12 states that have decriminalized the drug.

    Having once circulated tax petitions for the Nevada State Education Association, Giunchigliani is impressed that the Marijuana Policy Project could secure signatures of 109,000 people in 40 days on its initiative.

    "You know how we are in this state," she said. "It may be they know what the public wants. I see it as a recognition that a lot more people are using marijuana than you and I are aware of."

    "Over one third of the adults have tried the drug, including former presidents and Supreme Court justices," said Paul Armentano, a NORML spokesman. "It is time to admit it is part of the culture."

    Armentano said studies have shown that pot use has not increased in states with the most relaxed marijuana laws.

    "People are not flocking to Ohio because of its marijuana laws," he said.

    According to FBI statistics, marijuana arrests continue to climb, from fewer than 300,000 in 1991 to almost 750,000 in 2000. Marijuana is the seventh most common offense for police arrests.

    Such statistics led to the formation of the Marijuana Policy Project in 1995.

    "I think people are surprised by the increase in marijuana arrests," Rogers said. "This initiative recognizes that. It gives law enforcement more time to go after serious criminals."

    Note: State could go from strictest to most lenient in nation under proposed ballot question.

    Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
    Author: Ed Vogel, Review-Journal Capital Bureau
    Published: Monday, July 01, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Review-Journal
    Contact: letters@lvrj.com
    Website: http://www.lvrj.com/

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    NORML
    http://www.norml.org/

    Marijuana Policy Project
    http://www.mpp.org/
     
  2. This is the way to go. I'm both impressed and inspired. It's great that the people of Nevada got together and set out to achieve their goal.
     
  3. so what happened? now that its 2005...
     
  4. I think it got voted down, unfortunately...:( I remember that exact article, actually...
     
  5. I signed that petition.....


    and it got shot down on a technicallity....you'll love this....according the the powers that be the petition was turned in LATE....which appearantly nullified it to some degree....enough to blow it...

    It was a dam shame....alot of effort went into the gathering of the names...the worst part is that because it was ...."late".....it became a standing JOKE that potheads are too lazy and forgetful to even finish what they started....

    I was Furious when asshole Jay Leno made a crack about how the Nevada Potheads "got high an lost their own petition man".....

    I havent watch that asshole since.... the phoney bastard....

    So.....IF the Hippy Pothead wow man I forgot stigma ever washes off the subject ...it may actually happen.....but you know...once its a joke...it tends to lose all credibility.....
     

  6. rofl... dosent that dound like us anyway? uhhh dont we smoke pot EVEN tho its illegal? rofl that made me laugh really hard.
     

  7. Thats some bullshit man... fuck that try another one... try till they stop being so fucking stupid.

    I mean lets see... X (real x...not speed/ect pawned off as x in a club) mushrooms pot and LSD have caused less grief over the past 20 years then coke crack meth alcohol an diet pills have seperately...

    Some real FUD musta been drop trowed early on or maybe people 'back in the day' were in need of a scapegoat and they were already lapping at the budwiser pale of ale...sooo why the hell not lets ban a plant that grows as freely as a weed... lol thats gov for ya...
     
  8. your right....it is bullshit...and it will stay bullshit

    Myself...Im done screaming about weed laws....30 years Ive been an advocate...
    All I have seen is backpeddling...I have finally relised it will happen...just not in my lifetime.

    By the time an age grouip reaches political power at alevel to really do something I will be dead an gone..prolly for quite awhile too.

    Honestly ...Im worn the fuck out ...the torch is getting passed. Ive put in my three decades fighting the fight....the younger Generations can take over.

    it's not gonna change my life or my use of marijuana if I scream against the wind or not.

    good luck to all that carry on fighting for reformed laws...I hope you dont have to invest the time I have to see absolutely no result...it just doenst matter to me anymore....the only way to understand how I feel is to scream for 30 years to deaf ears.
     
  9. Dude please read the date before you post, this is 8 years old
     
  10. I mean, I'm really confused why he posted that at all, but it no big deal. It's not about unmentionables, so it won't get deleted, and it was started by SJ himself. Little piece of GC history.

    And it was actually started almost 11 years ago!
     
  11. wow why revive this i read through half of it.
     
  12. How do people find these old threads?
     

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