August 14, 2002
6:23 AM   Subscribe

Nevada looking to legalize marijuana. And not just for medicinal use, but for recreational use as well. So far, it looks like there's a good chance it might happen.
posted by triggerfinger (34 comments total)

And none of this pansy-ass 'decriminalization' for us Americans!

We've never cared about treaties before, why should we start now?
posted by delmoi at 6:30 AM on August 14, 2002

There is no way that will happen. Even if it were to pass, the dreaded 'boycott' word would spring up, as in "I'm not going to take our family, with our two teenagers and three infants, to Las Vegas any more".

It would not matter that they probably shouldn't be in that city to begin with. But money talks. Especially in a city like that.
posted by eas98 at 6:33 AM on August 14, 2002

eas98: Are you saying people consider Las Vegas to be a 'safe family destination'?

Anyway, if it's really a problem, the city can ban smoking pot as they have prostitution.
posted by delmoi at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2002

Future Headlines:

"Nevada Tourism Rockets 2,000%"

"Casinos Thrilled To Take Money From Stoned Players, But Can No Longer Afford To Comp 'Munchies'"

Anyway, I think it's a pretty cool idea/experiment. The key will be the feds' response. Although the article implies they wouldn't get involved because the amounts are so small, I have the feeling that there will be enormous pressure to "do something."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:36 AM on August 14, 2002

Nevada's police apparently provided some surprising backup for such arguments last week. The umbrella organization for nine law- enforcement unions announced its endorsement on grounds that "a simple marijuana arrest takes [police] off the street for several hours and sometimes over half of [a] shift."

NVPD down with the kine bud!
posted by kliuless at 7:13 AM on August 14, 2002

Nevada's largest police organization ousted its president Friday and reversed his endorsement of a statewide initiative that would let adults legally possess small amounts of marijuana.

guess not :(
posted by kliuless at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2002

This is going to make John Ashcroft so angry that he'll probably get a stroke.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:20 AM on August 14, 2002

Tonight on FOX, an all-new episode of NVPD Green!
posted by madprops at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2002

The initiative is disfunctional. It continues to criminalize street sale of marijuana, requiring sale in "licensed establishments."

Given the fair frequency with which the feds bust medical marijuana clinics in California, I'd have to say that no recreational marijuana store would be permitted to operate by the DEA and the FBI.

I think that the Feds can and will take a hard line on this. Federal law permits a six month jail sentence for buying a single joint -- won't take too many USC frat kids being sent to the slam in Alabama before nobody uses the word "decriminalize" again.
posted by MattD at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2002

The proposed legislation decriminalizes possession of up to three ounces of marijuana, and establishes a legal, government-run method for adults to buy it (not so different from the state-run liquor stores in many states). It also includes penalties for driving under the influence, providing it to minors, and smoking in public, and provides for lower prices for those who use marijuana for medical purposes. Here is the main group organizing it.

The Reno Gazette-Journal released a statewide poll showing that 48% of the voters are planning to vote for it, 48% are opposed, and 4% are undecided.

So it's kinda neck-and-neck.

I'd heartily encourage anybody who's at all interested in this issue to donate to NRLE; at this point it's mostly down to who buys the best TV ads.
posted by ook at 7:26 AM on August 14, 2002

There is one very good reason the government should not legalize marijuana: they'll start collecting taxes on it. You will have to register with a 'licensed agency' to buy your marijuana, and they will be able to track your use. New state and federal bureaucracies will be created as well. The last thing I want is to give the government more money and power, and I don't think it would be an acceptable alternative to the war on drugs, because it would be just substituting one power for another. Hell, the bureaucrats would practically have an incentive to use tax dollars to get people hooked. Call me paranoid.

I think marijuana should be legalized without restriction for sale to adults.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:31 AM on August 14, 2002

MattD -- you're correct that the Feds will almost certainly do their best to thwart this even if the initiative passes. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Why do you say it's "disfunctional?" Legalizing street sales would be a) impossible, and b) self-defeating: the only way to get Joe Sixpack and Soccer Mom to support this sort of thing is to play up the fact that it'll increase law and order, keep the trade regulated and under control, and make the streets safe.

Insomnyuk: you're paranoid. At least about the incentive to get people hooked. Certainly they'd tax the hell out of it, just like they do cigarettes and booze -- they would certainly do that under any legalization scheme. If this went nationwide, they'd also save a ton of money that's currently wasted on enforcement, trials, and prison sentences for smokers. How, exactly, is that a bad thing?
posted by ook at 7:42 AM on August 14, 2002

As its been posted previously Nevada, among others, has decriminalized pot possesion for the first two offenses. This is an attempt at legalization, and frankly it looks way too premature. I'd rather see true decriminalization for every offense, the growing of plants, and selling in small quantities. They really should be going in baby steps with something as politically charged as pot, as relatively harmless it may be.
posted by skallas at 7:46 AM on August 14, 2002

Getting rid of the drug war is a great thing, ook.

But for the government, money is like crack, they can never get enough. Eventually, if they tax it enough, they'll re-create the black market.

Again, I think drug legalization is in general good, I'm just worried about certain side effects, but I suppose they are minimal when truly balanced against the insane costs of the drug war.

Realize though, that mega corporations like Philip Morris already have plans to sell marijuana cigarettes, I think they are called Marlboro Blues. This may be good and bad, good because they won't be mixing their pot with opium or lacing it with pcp, but bad because they will probably get special treatment from the gov't. in their special narcotics stores. Homegrowers will be kept out of this venue, most definitely, and even criminalized themselves as a 'safety risk'.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:47 AM on August 14, 2002

Why Nevada particularly? I've seen it listed as a state with libertarian leanings, so I understand that it's a good place to try this out, but I woulda thought vermont or the like if only because there are so many dopers there already. Anybody from Nevada wanna chime in with a report from the ground?
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2002

Are you saying people consider Las Vegas to be a 'safe family destination'?

I heard an interview on the radio yesterday with Bernie Kopell, who is a member of some tourism group in Las Vegas, pushing it as a family-friendly destination.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2002

There has been astonishingly little coverage of this locally (though I must admit, I avoid local news like the plague, but most big things usually seep through). Nevada seems far more conservative than libertarian these days. This effort flies in the face of the 10-year trend of "cleaning up" Vegas, toning down the "Sin City" reputation, and trying to appeal to family vacationers (yes, delmoi, untold millions have been spent to repurpose Vegas as a "family destination" and millions of people bring their kids here each year). I would be very surprised if it passed (but bring on the vote).
posted by rushmc at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2002

eas98: Are you saying people consider Las Vegas to be a 'safe family destination'?

Unfortunately, people consider Las Vegas to be just another Disney World. I go there once a year, and you would just be amazed at the number of families there, strollers in tow and all. Lately, the city has tried to move away from that image a bit, but not nearly enough imho.
posted by eas98 at 8:24 AM on August 14, 2002

That link should have gone here: Bernie Kopell.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2002

Why would you want street sales to be legal? Do you expect pot dealers to suddenly grab a copy of Quicken and keep tight business books? Will they up their botany and chemistry knowledge to make sure they grow consistent plants and don't lace it with anything else?

I would love to see all drugs legalized, but only available from pharmacies, to ensure stable, clean, well-managed product. I wouldn't expect someone needs to have a prescription, but to ensure consistent quality drugs, sold in a responsible enough setting that any taxes would be collected, I can't see why street dealers should be in the picture. I would also hope that advertising of any previously illegal drugs were banned, no sense in glorifiying it.

There was a recent article about legalization in Amsterdam that was pretty enlightening. The basic message was that through controlled laws and a lack of stigma attached to using drugs, the dutch had made drugs completely boring and ordinary. Which is how they should be.
posted by mathowie at 8:45 AM on August 14, 2002

Interesting that this is happening in Nevada. I recall a line from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, wherein our hero reads a billboard that says:

"Don't gamble with Marijuana
- Possession - 5 Years
- Sale - Life!"

Guess the times they are a changin'
posted by Windopaene at 9:07 AM on August 14, 2002

The initiative requires that marijuana be sold in licensed establishments, but that will be impossible, because all licensed establishments will be immediately closed and their proprietors sent away for very long terms by the Feds. Thus, this is simply an act which legalizes the "buy side" of street dealing. The feds may, or may not, decide to aggressively step up street dealing enforcement, including federal charges for simple pot possession (which, as the original article noted, are exceedingly rare at present.)
posted by MattD at 9:23 AM on August 14, 2002

Dammit MattD. Of course you're right. But your reasoning just poked the final hole in my "hope it would come true balloon". That said, look at the crap lies that probably would scare Dick and Jane Suburb off anyway:

All Nevada is going to do is look stupid and foolish," says Mr. Booker, (the deputy DA), who borrowed three ounces of cannabis from the police-evidence room to show the media that it's enough for 250 joints. "It would be like enacting a constitutional amendment that legalizes slavery. It's illegal and it will still be illegal."

250 joints from three ounces?
Legalizes slavery?
How over the top is that?

This is one of those "bang your head on the wall" situations for me anyway. The Federal Government can, without ballot or vote, put a frickin' nuclear waste dump anywhere they damn want to. And then turn around and negate a legitimate state law when they damn well please. Freedom?
posted by Cedric at 9:57 AM on August 14, 2002

is think it's because most of the land in nevada is federal land anyway? also what do you call people from nevada? nevadans? i think it'd be cool if they were called nevaders :) spaced nevaders!

If this went nationwide, they'd also save a ton of money that's currently wasted on enforcement, trials, and prison sentences for smokers. How, exactly, is that a bad thing?

the function of the drug war by j. orlin grabbe

also not really having to deal with pot, but kind of related is gary webb's dark alliance
posted by kliuless at 10:19 AM on August 14, 2002

From an MPP report about Booker's performance Cedric refers to above:

By doing this, the police may have broken the law, which states that they can only possess drugs in the context of performing official duties -- not to use them in a political campaign.

And they may have broken the law a second time by campaigning against us while on the clock; taxpayer money cannot be used to pay their salaries while they are campaigning against our initiative. Our campaign is fed up with rogue cops who think they are above the law, and we are publicly calling for their prosecution.

MattD, you're correct that even if this passes it's highly unlikely the feds will go along with it; at best it sets up a states'-rights confrontation. But, again, you have to start somewhere. It's extremely unlikely that any changes will be made at the federal level until a number of states have taken the plunge.
posted by ook at 10:32 AM on August 14, 2002

I didn't read any of your comments, so I'm oblivious to the conversation here, but...


Here's why: Nevada makes money from Vegas (and smaller versions of Vegas that aren't as shiny). What sells in Vegas? Gambling and fucking. Pot makes you too relaxed/blissful to be anxious to win a buck, and, ahem, reduces sexual performance capabilities.

Sorry folks. Not gonna happen. Mark my words.
posted by zekinskia at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2002

Well, I have no idea whether or not it will pass, but technically, "what sells" in Vegas is: any conceivable thing that a person could possibly want. I think pot passes this rather, ah, liberal criterion.
posted by Skot at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2002

ahem, reduces sexual performance capabilities.

heh. anyone who's actually done the deed while high knows that this is not true.
posted by sid at 11:53 AM on August 14, 2002

I didn't read any of your comments, so I'm oblivious to the conversation here

'cause the two minutes it would've taken to actually follow the conversation are trumped by your need to say something immediately, right? Feh.

...and, what Skot said. ...and, what sid said.
posted by ook at 12:05 PM on August 14, 2002

it's also good after sex! ganja mothers, ganja babies :)
posted by kliuless at 12:40 PM on August 14, 2002

also what do you call people from nevada? nevadans?


What sells in Vegas? Gambling and fucking.

You are aware that prostitution is illegal in Clark County (which includes Las Vegas)?

The Federal Government can, without ballot or vote, put a frickin' nuclear waste dump anywhere they damn want to. And then turn around and negate a legitimate state law when they damn well please.

Well, at least it's comforting to know that Bush and the Republicans are so pro-states' rights.
posted by rushmc at 1:05 PM on August 14, 2002

Yeah, I came close to burning out in Vegas.

We were in town for a three-show weekend. It seemed our bassist was dogged out with the flu or the clap or something. So he wasn't up for much after the first show, when our manager came in with five or six of the girls from the front row -- all tight shirts and wet panties -- you know the type.

The drummer and I had been popping pills since we got off the bus, so we were ready to kick up some dust. Joints were passed, beer was drunk, the girls started getting ticklish and doing a little lap dance, when our manager tossed out his empty and said "that was our last beer."

So we left him with our bassist, piled in our car, and told our driver to stop at a package store. We sent one of the hot- pants in for a bottle of vodka, which we cracked in the car on the way to dinner.

The girls were crazy at dinner. Food fights across the table, head underneath it. One of them had some blow with her; we huffed that, went back to the hotel, and partied all night.

Come the third night of this sort of debauchery, I was fried. There I was, onstage drinking beer and popping 'ludes to keep my lid on, our drummer was speeding, and I mean speeding, and our bassist, man, someone was hooking him up with a skin full of china for the previous few weeks -- turned out it was our manager -- and what we thought was clap was a major dope nod. It was the best show we ever played.

Man, that was an insane time. How did I keep from burning out? It was easy: I knew that I'd rest when it was over, and at the next week's show, there'd be plenty of booze, drugs, girls, and rock'n'roll to start in on all over again.

Doesn't matter if it's legal or not if it's available.
posted by dfowler at 9:36 AM on August 15, 2002

Pretty wild stuff for a marching band.
posted by cell divide at 9:42 AM on August 15, 2002

3 grams of marijuana costs $50 in Oregon (The good stuff) and it has been holding steady like that for months. This is enough marijuana to make two cigarettes.

It takes very little marijuana to get high when you compare it to other traditional forms of legal substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco).

Let's say it costs about the same to grow pot as it would to grow tobacco, even though marijuana doesnt destroy the soil underneath it like tobacco. This means that it would cost less than 5 cents to grow 3 grams of dried, ready to smoke pot. Add $9.95 tax to that. 3 grams in nevada for $10 will change the entire outlook and price of markets all over america.
I know for a fact I will pay nevada's whorehouses a visit if weed is legalized.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2002

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