Marijuana petitioners call the current law a ‘miserable failure’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Marijuana petitioners call the current law a ‘miserable failure’

CARSON CITY – The head of the committee calling for legalization of marijuana in Nevada says the group does not support use of the drug but rather believes the current prohibition is bad policy and “a miserable failure.”

Neal Levine, of the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana, said instead of banning pot, the proposed statute on Nevada’s 2006 ballot would set up a system of manufacture and sales for small amounts of marijuana in Nevada. It would allow possession and use of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults in their own homes but would double the penalties for selling to minors and prohibit use by those under 21. It would also provide for creation and licensing of retail stores to sell small amounts of pot and tax those sales. Half the revenue would go to the state treasury and the other half to drug and alcohol programs.

The goal, he said, is to “pull marijuana out of the criminal market where we’re financing the activities of violent gangs and drug dealers and put it into a tightly regulated market where we can have some controls and not penalize adults for something that doesn’t harm another person or property.”



Levine said 770,000 people were arrested in the United States on marijuana offenses – the vast majority for possession. He said federal surveys show 57.5 percent of high school seniors in Nevada admit they’ve smoked marijuana and more than a quarter of those seniors admit to habitual pot use.

“Current marijuana laws just don’t work,” he said. “If the goal of prohibition was to eradicate marijuana use and the marijuana supply, you’d be hard pressed to find another policy that’s more of a miserable failure.”




He emphasized that the committee and its parent organization the Marijuana Policy Project don’t advocate marijuana use. He said they want to break the chain of criminal providers and take drug profits away from them.

“And we’re not saying pass this initiative so we take marijuana out of the hands of teenagers,” he said.

“What we’re saying is current laws don’t work so let’s pull marijuana out of the criminal market.”

Levine rejected the often-repeated law enforcement theory that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to use of hard drugs including methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. He said a 1999 National Institute of Health study found no evidence marijuana is a gateway drug.

“If that were true we’d have 100 million hard drug addicts in the country because almost 50 percent of the people in America have tried marijuana,” he said.

The ballot question asking voters to change the law to legalize possession of an ounce or less of pot and to set up a system of regulated stores to tax and sell it is already on the 2006 ballot, qualified by petition more than a year ago.

Levine said organizers are depending on a volunteer-based, grassroots campaign, knocking on doors and calling people to get out the vote.

“What we’re saying is we have a bad policy. Let’s replace it with good policy,” he said.

Election 2006

The ballot question asking voters to change the law to legalize possession of an ounce or less of pot and to set up a system of regulated stores to tax and sell it is on the 2006 ballot, qualified by petition more than a year ago.

What would it mean?

Passage by voters of the measure to legalize marijuana would:

— set up a system of manufacture and sales for small amounts of marijuana;

— allow possession and use of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults in their own homes;

— double the penalties for selling to minors;

— prohibit use by those under 21;

— provide for creation and licensing of retail stores to sell small amounts of pot and tax those sales.

— Half the revenue would go to the state treasury and half to drug and alcohol programs


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