http://www.rgj.com/news/stories/html/2002/08/04/20879.php?sp1=rgj&sp2=Umbrella&sp3=Umbrella Nevada voters evenly split on pot issue Nevada voters are evenly split on a ballot initiative that would legalize adult possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana, a new poll shows. But in Reno and Washoe County, a clear majority of residents oppose the legalization of small amounts of marijuana, according to a Reno Gazette-Journal/News 4 poll. The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted in July by Rockville, Md.-based Research 2000. Statewide, 48 percent of Nevadans support the ballot question that takes marijuana beyond medical use approved two years ago; 48 percent oppose it. Four percent were not sure. Opposition rises to 58 percent in Washoe County and 54 percent in Reno, the poll shows. â€œWe think it's good news,â€ said Billy Rogers, spokesman for Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, the group pushing the ballot measure. â€œBased on these results, I think it's likely we'll win this election.â€ Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick, who strongly opposes the measure, expected the issue to have more support in Clark County than the rest of Nevada. â€œI expect conservatism runs a little more rampant in Washoe County and the cow counties than in Clark County,â€ Gammick said. â€œAll these people leave California to get away from that kind of stuff, and then when they get here, they want to bring all that stuff with them.â€ Research 2000 President Del Ali said that, statewide, the issue appears to be a dead heat. There are also very few undecided voters, who traditionally tend to vote against ballot initiatives. Twelve percent of those polled strongly disapprove of the measure compared to 9 percent who strongly support it, noted Ali. Based on those numbers, he thinks the measure will be voted down. Initiative supporters have to spend a lot of money and time to get their campaign right, Ali said. â€œAnd they're going to have to give a real compelling reason why they want 3 ounces of marijuana made legal,â€ he added. While the marijuana issue had no gender gap, Democrats supported it much more heavily than Republicans and independents, Ali said. Support among medical pot users In 1998 and 2000, Nevada voters approved licensing people who want to use marijuana for medical reasons. Rogers said his group believes law enforcement has better things to do than arrest people for having small amounts of marijuana in their home. The 3 ounces is often associated with medical marijuana use. The proposed law would forbid public use of marijuana and driving while under the influence of marijuana. It would require prison sentences for people who sell marijuana to children. â€œThis protects responsible people and punishes irresponsible people,â€ Rogers said. Gary Brown, a employee at Hippies pipe and incense shop in Sparks and the 14th person to receive a medical marijuana card in Nevada, said young people are telling him they are registering to vote just so they can support the marijuana question. â€œI wish the government would lighten up on us,â€ Brown said. â€œI consider this to be truth in democracy. This is what this is about, people voting for something they feel is worth voting for.â€ Brown said he was a Navy corpsman attached to the Marines in Vietnam in April 1967 when he was injured in an ambush and left 70 percent disabled. After Nevada law allowed marijuana use for medical reasons, Brown signed up for the license that says he has a medical need to use medical marijuana. As of July 8, the state had received 186 applications. After work, as he starts relaxing for bed, Brown will take a few puffs of marijuana to cope with the pain, he said. He said the marijuana is a substitute for prescribed medication that makes him groggy. While the latest initiative makes it legal for any adult to have up to 3 ounces of marijuana, Brown notes it also makes the state provide low-cost marijuana for people who have medical needs for it. People with the medical marijuana cards currently can grow up to seven plants at home, but it's still illegal in Nevada for them to buy marijuana. Brown wishes the proposal only allowed up to 2 ounces for adults because that might get a wider range of support than the proposed 3 ounces. â€œI think 2 ounces is great,â€ Brown said. â€œIt would have been an easier number to swallow.â€ He's also glad the proposal limits the age to 21, like alcohol, because that will do a better job of keeping it out of the hands of children. â€œEighteen is too young. I think 21 is still great,â€ Brown said. â€œIt is a gateway drug for the younger people,â€ Brown said of marijuana. â€œBut so is alcohol. Beer is a gateway drug and this state has one of the highest alcoholism rates in the nation.â€ Officials oppose Gammick said telephone calls he's getting show people are confused and believe the issue deals with medical marijuana only. It's to legalize up to 3 ounces for any adult, or as many as 90 marijuana cigarettes, Gammick said. â€œThis is not a small amount of marijuana for personal use,â€ the district attorney said. Drug Enforcement Administration Director Asa Hutchinson came to Nevada last month and said the initiative, if passed by voters, would encourage teens to experiment with drugs and put Nevada in conflict with federal law. Lisa Eggen of South Lake Tahoe said it is â€œabout timeâ€ Nevada looked at making possession of smaller amounts of marijuana legal. â€œThis is a state that has legalized prostitution and gives away alcohol, and yet marijuana possession, until very recently, was a felony,â€ Eggen said. But Eggen was surprised the latest marijuana proposal has such strong support statewide. She thinks it might be economically driven as people look for something to offer in Nevada that can't be offered at Indian casinos. Douglas M. Morrin of Reno fears the latest proposal will mean more people on the streets driving dangerously while under the influence of marijuana. â€œMy attitude is that I don't like drugs, period,â€ Morrin said. â€œIf they legalize 3 ounces, then they're going to carry 3 ounces all the time.â€ Given the rapid growth of Nevada, particularly by people relocated from California, Morrin wasn't surprised by the support for the ballot question. â€œTen years ago I would have said you couldn't have gotten that passed,â€ Morrin said.