Nevada to take another stab at pot legalization

Even as California readies for year of debate over marijuana legalization culminating with a ballot measure vote this November, activists just across the state line are rolling out their own initiative for 2012.

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws – an offshoot of the Marijuana Policy Project – will roll out its proposed measure Wednesday on the Nevada State Capitol’s steps in Carson City, moments after submitting it to the Nevada Secretary of State. The group says its measure would create a taxed and regulated marijuana market for adults aged 21 years and older; the measure will need signatures from 97,002 registered voters by this November in order to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

“We are excited to be launching this historic campaign,” campaign manager Dave Schwartz said in a news release. “We have literally spent months drafting this initiative and believe it is the best marijuana-related initiative ever proposed. We are fully confident that we will qualify for the ballot and will garner majority support in 2012. As we embark on our signature drive, we are determined to use every interaction with Nevada residents to educate them about one simple fact: Marijuana, by every objective measure, is a safer substance than alcohol. We will encourage voters to consider this fact and decide for themselves whether it makes sense to allow adults to use alcohol freely, but punish them if they choose to use a less harmful substance, marijuana.”

Schwartz this afternoon noted his group has put similar measures on Nevada’s ballot twice before, in 2002 and 2006, and had always planned to have another go at it; it’s coinciding with – not piggybacking upon – California’s effort, he said. “Of course, if there’s energy that’s coming off of this and it does well in California, that’s going to be a huge help for us.”

Meanwhile, the new-fangled version of AB 390, the marijuana legalization bill by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Public Safety Committee (of which Ammiano is chair) next Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.