Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt held a press conference in Carson City, NV on Thursday, Aug. 25 during which he and several law enforcement officers spoke against approval of Question 2 on the November ballot that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
Nevada Assemblyman Chris Edwards (R-AD19) attended the press conference and agreed with the AG’s stance against recreational marijuana in a telephone interview with the Mesquite Local News.
“I’m in agreement with the Attorney General on this issue mostly because of the law enforcement issues associated with legalizing recreational marijuana,” Edwards said. “I don’t have a problem with medical marijuana and understand the valuable use of it. But there are quite a few safety and health and welfare issues with the recreational use of it as AG Laxalt discussed.”
Edwards said that the ballot initiative was written by representatives of the marijuana industry “without legislative or law enforcement input or involvement in the process.” Edwards said Laxalt used examples from Colorado which legalized marijuana several years ago as a lesson in the pitfalls of the issue. “The Colorado Attorney General has pointed out that drug-driving incidents are way up with a 32 percent increase in traffic deaths. And the drug cartels have moved into Colorado deeper than before.”
He said that recreational use of marijuana will cause more problems for people and communities in Nevada with the state likely following the same trends as Colorado and Washington have experienced. “There are more burglaries and more stolen vehicles than before because people have to get the money somewhere to pay for the drugs,” Edwards said.
“We are also very concerned about the problems coming up with edible recreational marijuana products like brownies, gummy candies and now, pot soda. Those can be a panacea of problems to unsuspecting people who may not know the edibles include marijuana. The high dosages in edibles can cause serious injury or death,” he said.
Edwards refuted the notion of significant tax revenues coming from recreational marijuana sales. “The promises of all this new money going to schools won’t pan out. A lot more money will have to go to law enforcement, hospitals, and treatment facilities. Rather than an increase in tax revenues the result may well be negligible or even negative tax revenues,” Edwards said. “All that money going to schools is a pipe dream, no pun intended.”
He has a sense that medical marijuana sales will continue to grow at some level and doesn’t think that opposing recreational marijuana legalization will threaten medical marijuana. “It will probably stay the same or increase at some percentage in the future,” Edwards said.
He pointed out that experts have said the THC levels in marijuana used in the 1950s and 1960s was about four percent. “Now THC levels in today’s marijuana is about 30 percent. That is a huge increase and something that many people are not aware of,” he said. THC is the hallucinogenic ingredient in marijuana.
He disagrees with recreational marijuana proponents who say the legalization of it will bring it out of the ‘back alleys’ and make its use safer. “That’s not been the case in other states that have legalized its use. In Colorado the drug cartels are even stronger and more prevalent than ever before. It doesn’t replace illegal sales and use; it complements and enhances the problems.”
“Legislators will have to take a serious look at the necessary regulations regarding recreational marijuana production, distribution and sales if the voters approve Question 2 in November,” Edwards said. “We need to make a significant effort to regulate it in the best manner possible. The reality is we don’t have many people with a lot of experience in the industry. Not many people have figured out what works and what doesn’t. And we have to have law enforcement involved every step of the way if it’s legalized.”
Edwards added that proponents of recreational marijuana are highly underestimating the risks to users and other innocent people. “This is a different way of doing the same damage that alcohol abuse does. Proponents say that it’s being used safely in a person’s home. But how many people will use it at home and then go out and drive or do other stupid things that can harm innocent people? We may very well have the same type of people making the same mistake using a different tool to do the job. We can’t afford that.”
“When you think rationally about the issue it won’t be good for our people or our state,” Edwards said.