What legalized marijuana would mean for Lake Tahoe’s South Shore
Two states, two counties, a handful of cities, one community — and one drug.
On Nov. 8 California and Nevada residents will vote on Proposition 64 and Question 2, respectively, and determine whether recreational marijuana will be legalized.
So what does that mean for Lake Tahoe’s South Shore — a community that falls under multiple jurisdictions? It might not be allowed on your side of the state line, but it could be a short drive away.
Who could use it?
Both California’s Prop 64 and Nevada’s Question 2, if passed, would allow adults, ages 21 and up, to purchase, possess and consume marijuana recreationally. Smoking would be allowed in a private residence or a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption.
It would be illegal to smoke while driving and in public places, and to possess marijuana in schools or youth centers. Of-age adults could grow up to six plants at home for personal use.
Who could sell it?
In California, businesses that wish to sell recreational marijuana would have to obtain a state license. Local governments also have the option of mandating a separate license. Retailers must be at least 600 feet from any school or youth center.
Across the state line in Nevada, recreational marijuana retailers would need authorization through the Nevada Department of Taxation. Businesses are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or 300 feet of a community facility.
Additionally, there are limitations on the number of marijuana retailers within a county based on population. Douglas County, with a population of less than 55,000, can house up to two.
Who would regulate it?
Both Prop 64 and Question 2 allow for local regulation and restriction by cities and counties — which includes the option to ban recreational marijuana retailers entirely.
In California, the measure would create two new taxes, one levied on cultivation — $9.25 per ounce for buds and $2.75 per ounce for leaves — and another 15-percent tax on the retail price of pot. Local governments could impose taxes as well.
Revenue would go into a new California Marijuana Tax Fund to be distributed to youth programs and drug research and enforcement. The state’s legislative analyst and director of finance estimate net revenue could total over $1 billion annually.
In Nevada, there would be a 15-percent tax on wholesale marijuana purchases, while retail sales would be subject to the standard sales tax. Revenue left over after covering costs related to the measure will be deposited in the State Distributive School Account.
RCG Economics and Marijuana Policy Group estimate it will spark $7.5 billion in economic activity for Nevada in the first seven years.
Why vote yes?
Proponents of recreational marijuana argue that legalizing marijuana would reduce black market and drug cartel activity, while generating tax revenue for positive initiatives like after-school programs, drug prevention education and law enforcement.
Supporters of Prop 64 and Question 2 point to safeguards in place to protect children all while promoting responsible, adult marijuana use.
It would bolster tourism, create new jobs, and repeal anti-marijuana laws that impact young, non-violent offenders, they add.
“I believe that our tax dollars ought to be spent on improving our schools — not building new jail cells,” said Sen. Nelson Araujo (D-3).
“Legalizing marijuana will not only help improve Nevada’s justice system, but add a new tax revenue source to our state that will increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes and build new schools.”
Tahoe Wellness Cooperative owner Cody Bass, who operates a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, expressed his support of Prop 64 on Facebook.
“So after many months of contemplating my vote on Prop 64 I have decided that I will be voting YES. I have looked very hard into the reality of this law and how it will affect our community. For me it has come down to a very simple fact, ‘Cannabis is not a crime’ and a no vote would only be validating felony criminal code, which could put so many in a very hard place,” stated Bass.
“I have many issues with some of the language in Prop 64 and believe that we must unify to ensure we get the amendments we need, if we can’t get those amendments we must have a unified force to bring a much better initiative in 2020.”
Why vote no?
Opponents of legalized, recreational marijuana say that it would result in more impaired driving, drug-related fatalities and hospital visits, and in fact increase black market and drug cartel activity.
They argue that it would be detrimental to youth, reducing the social stigma of a “gateway drug,” and the health of the general public.
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing Prop 64, citing concerns over health risks and the accessibility to teens.
“Further study and analysis are needed to determine the full consequences of the legalization of recreational marijuana use in other states before it is allowed by the State of California,” said Creighton Avila of El Dorado County in a press release.
South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler spoke out about his opposition to Prop 64 in August.
“This initiative is bad for California and bad for South Lake Tahoe,” stated Uhler. “After a similar, short-sighted 2014 initiative passed in Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths jumped 32 percent (2014 over 2013).”
Will it pass?
According to polls conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in mid-October, 55 percent of 1,016 likely voters support Prop 64, 38 percent oppose it and 6 percent are undecided.
Across the state line in Nevada, a Bendixen & Amandi International survey of 800 likely voters found 47 percent in support of Question 2, 46 percent against it and 7 percent undecided.
Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts are also voting on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota will decide if medical marijuana should be allowed.
Recreational marijuana use is currently legal in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska.