Move To Legalize Marijuana in Nevada Has a Chance

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jun 18, 2002.

  1. By Jimmy Boegle
    Source: Las Vegas City Life

    Over the past few weeks, they've been seemingly everywhere - libraries, the DMV, meetings, etc. - with their petitions and pens. This small army of clipboard-holding minions, some paid and some volunteers, has one goal: The legalization of marijuana in Nevada.
    Not just medical marijuana - that's already legal as the result of a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1998 and 2000. This is the legalization of the use and possession of three ounces or less of marijuana by anybody 21 or older.

    In other words, it could be 4:20 in Nevada 24/7 if this amendment gets enough signatures to make the ballot, and is then approved by voters this year and in 2004.

    The folks behind this movement, a newly formed political action committee called Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, are being tight-lipped about their efforts. Gail Tuzzolo, a paid political consultant heading up the PAC, said the group is too focused on getting enough signatures right now to talk to the media.

    "We're sort of doing our news blackout," Tuzzolo said. "We're not talking to the press. We're working on getting all the signatures in."

    Bruce Mirken, the director of communications of the Marijuana Policy Project (the Washington, D.C.-based group behind Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement), was equally unhelpful.

    "We're in the process of getting signatures," he said. "We'll have a lot to say when it gets on the ballot. ... We're not seeking coverage right now, because we're seeking signatures."

    In defense of these folks, they do have their hands full. By June 16, the group has to turn in at least 61,336 voters to the secretary of state - that's 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the 2000 statewide election. Additionally, signatures representing 10 percent of the total of 2000 votes from 13 of the state's 17 counties must be included. The group has been collecting signatures since May 9. That's a lot of John Hancocks in a short amount of time, and the group estimates they'll need about 110,000 total signatures for enough of them to be valid.

    But whether or not they want coverage right now, they're getting it. And before they finally stopped talking to us, both Tuzzolo and Mirken said they were close to the necessary pace to reach their goal.

    So, what does this all mean? Let's break it down.

    The initiative, if successful, would amend the Nevada Constitution to say the following:

    -- That the use or possession of three ounces or less of weed by anybody 21 or older would not be a "cause for arrest, civil or criminal penalty, or seizure or forfeiture of assets." In other words, pot would be legal in the eyes of the state constitution.

    -- The state would have to develop "a system of regulation, designed to curb the unlawful production of marijuana, for the cultivation, taxation, sale, and distribution of marijuana ..."

    -- Advertising of pot would be illegal.

    -- Weed would be taxed similar to tobacco and cigarettes.

    -- It could not be used in cars or public places, and you could not be "driving dangerously" or operating heavy machinery while under the influence.

    Of course, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law, opening a very interesting can of worms.

    Before they got tight-lipped, Tuzzolo and others painted the petition primarily as something to help out medical marijuana users by instituting a system for distribution, and by making it so sick patients wouldn't need a doctor's permission to get the marijuana (many doctors have been weary to sign off on marijuana use, fearing the feds).

    The petition drive comes two years after voters approved medical marijuana, and just months after the 2001 Legislature chilled out what was one of the nation's toughest marijuana laws. Before, marijuana possession was a felony; now, in small amounts, it is simply a misdemeanor.

    All of this is very interesting, and it will become moot if the petitioners fail to get enough signatures. But should they succeed, here are some things to look out for:

    -- The buzz is that anti-Question 2 (The anti-gay "Protection of Marriage" Initiative, which will be on the ballot for a second and final time this year) forces may be looking at this as an equalizer. It's well-known that Question 2 exists, in part, because its right-wing supporters knew it would bring right-wing voters to the polls. Well, some proponents of the marijuana initiative hope that if it makes the ballot, it will have the same effect on left-wing voters. One flaw with this logic: In 2000, the medical marijuana initiative, which passed overwhelmingly, did not accomplish this. Nonetheless, for some, hope springs eternal.

    -- Why Nevada? The Marijuana Policy Project has been willing to pay $1 per signature and pay big bucks for a consultant to get this measure on the ballot. Sure, Nevada's relatively small size makes it easier to do this here than in, say, California. And it would set a nice precedent; if this ballot initiative passes muster, Nevada would become the first state to effectively give the finger to the feds in terms of marijuana laws. But beyond that, why choose Nevada for this groundbreaking move?

    (When asked this question point-blank, Mirken said he was not the one to talk to about this, and that he'd try to get someone else to talk to CityLife; nobody called back.)

    -- What are the consequences? Considering that George W. Bush and John Ashcroft are in office, what would they do to Nevada if this makes it through?

    It's all fun to speculate about, assuming the petition drive is successful. And that's a moderately big "if" at this point.

    Note: Nevada could become a pot smokers' haven on Jan. 1, 2005 if a current initiative petition is successful. Mark your calendars!

    Source: Las Vegas City Life (NV)
    Author: Jimmy Boegle
    Published: Saturday, June 15, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas City Life

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    Marijuana Policy Project
  2. I'm gonna go to college in navada if this happens.

  3. LMAO!

    hahaha...thats great.
  4. That would be an amazing thing...... now if only i knew the difference between the state and federak laws when it comes to this kind of thing.

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