Nevada Initiative Takes Aim at Marijuana Legalization

marijuana
Political Health

marijuanaOnly two states thus far have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but Nevada is hoping to join them in coming years. Petitions have been filed to legalize possession in the state, though it may be a few years before we know the outcome of their efforts.

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana submitted the initiative petition this past week, a petition that will require about 102,000 to send the legalization bill onto lawmakers in 2015. If the legislature failed to act on the bill or if they rejected it, it would then go before voters in 2016, an election year.

The initiative would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, allowing them to possess up to one ounce. It would also set up a system to allow for cultivation and dispensary sales, much like the system being put in place for medical marijuana in Nevada right now.

As the press reports, the timing is good, as getting the issue before voters in 2016 would make it more likely to pass. Young voters notoriously show up in higher numbers during presidential election years, and that group is also more likely to support legalization.

Wholesale pot sales would be tagged with a 15 percent tax and retail transactions would be taxed at existing sales tax rates. The revenues from marijuana sales would go to the Distributive School Account to support the state’s school system.

So far, Nevada hasn’t had a great track record where marijuana reform is concerned, with voters rejecting such measures in 2002 and 2006, and the Legislature defeating one in 2013.

But this year, the state seems to be pressing forward. Though medicinal marijuana was approved in 2000, lawmakers are just now implementing a regulator system to make medical pot more available to those who need it.

As written, the Nevada medical marijuana law only gave registered card holders access to marijuana they grew themselves. Now, lawmakers are putting together the regulatory and distribution framework that will allow for dispensaries and taxation.

So far in Clark County alone, 206 applications have been submitted from people hoping to start medical pot businesses. Counties will approve applications and then send them onto the state for final licensing.

“Coming from that side of the aisle, it’s very clear now that cannabis legalization is no longer a left-right issue,” said Joe Brenzy of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana. Brenzy is a former Republican state Senate caucus director and former state director for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2008. Now, he’s registered as nonpartisan.