In November, Nevada will head to the voting booth not only to help determine who will be the next president of the country but also to decide whether or not marijuana should be legalized for recreational use and regulated like alcohol.
In advance of the election, groups on both sides are taking the opportunity to speak out and share their opinions on the subject.
Is it a good idea for Nevada to legalize another addictive substance?
Many who are for the legislation say it will cut back on the number of people who are arrested and incarcerated for drug-related crimes as well as create a new industry that will bring in tax revenue to support the state. Still others call current laws “prohibition” and state that adults should be able to make their own choice about the substances they use without fear of legal consequences.
It seems, however, that drug courts are in place to help people who are arrested for nonviolent drug-related crimes and that possession of small amounts of marijuana is not usually “punished” with incarceration. Additionally, many experts say that, like alcohol, which is also taxed by the state, the costs associated with free and open use of the substance that are incurred by the state far outweigh the money brought in from taxation.
As far as personal choice is concerned, the question must be raised of the personal choice of those who would be harmed by people under the influence – children who accidentally ingest the drug in the form of edibles, people hit on the road by drivers under the influence, and young people who have the notion that the drug is harmless and experiment with a drug that is highly addictive.
Sue Thau is a public policy consultant with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, (CADCA), an organization that opposes the legalization of marijuana. She says: “This is an addictive substance that people are going to misuse,” and notes, “We’ve seen a lot of negative impacts.”
It is true that in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use, there has been a long line of problems waiting for judgment at court – hardly a decrease in state resources. A brand new industry that is still illegal federally is bound to come up against a number of problems, among them:
- How to manage failed drug tests in workplaces with a zero-tolerance drug policy when marijuana is legal
- How to determine whether or not someone is too impaired by marijuana to drive
- How to test for marijuana intoxication in the field
- How to manage the risk of toddlers and children eating marijuana edibles that have high levels of THC and look like normal treats
- Creating an entire new industry complete with regulatory agencies and inspections to ensure that standards are met and safety is maintained
The Issue of Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a unique city and the legalization of marijuana brings with it a number of unique considerations for a town that is world-renowned for excess and overindulgence in everything. The Gambling Capital of the World also offers travelers access to a range of substances, including free drinks, to help keep them in the casinos and spending money. Should marijuana be legalized for recreational use, how will Las Vegas change?
Some believe that it would boost an already flourishing tourist industry, bringing in people who would like to take advantage of the new laws. Others believe that it would cause even more problems than the city already faces, placing an undue burden on law enforcement, local courts, and other agencies. The risks of driving under the influence and accidents associated with that may increase, as well as the risk of overdose due to use of multiple substances. Emergency rooms may have more admissions, especially due to use of marijuana edibles.
There are a number of possibilities that must be considered in regard to the impact on cities like Las Vegas, the overdose capital of the state, as well as the impact on local communities, both rural towns and the suburbs.
What Do You Think?
Which way do you think the voters should vote in November? Do you feel that legalized recreational marijuana use is a positive step forward for Nevada and Las Vegas? Do you think that recreational marijuana is a decision that should be postponed pending more information from the states that have already legalized the drug, or never considered at all under any circumstances?