Weeding Through the Facts
A panel of experts discussed Question 2, the ballot to pass recreational marijuana in Nevada
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Question 2, formally known as the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will be on the Nov. 8th ballot to determine if recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and older should be legal in the state of Nevada. Incline Village local Dr. Andrew Whyman hosted a panel of eight expert speakers both for and against the ballot to discuss their opinions in front of a large and diverse crowd on Oct. 18, on Sierra Nevada College Campus.
“I’m not for marijuana or against marijuana,” said Whyman. “I’m for knowing the facts and knowing its place in our culture and society. You should have the freedom of choice for what you want to put in your body without criminalization if it doesn’t harm yourself or other people.”
Whyman encouraged panelists to speak freely on topics surrounding marijuana about stigma, criminal justice, social justice, impacts on youth, regulation, addiction concerns and more. One of the main focus of the conversation was the financial benefit and downfalls of legalizing recreational marijuana.
According to Christine Brady, a Washoe County public defender, the tax revenues of marijuana sales would go directly into Nevada educational programs.
“Our schools are in dire need of this revenue, which would accumulate to around $300 million,” Brady said.
SNC Professor Samantha Bankston, pro-Question 2, agreed that this money is essential for schools in the state.
“Nevada is somewhere between 45th and 50th in terms of education,” said Bankston. “The money from this initiative is going to go to education, which Nevada desperately needs.”
Conversely, Jason Guinasso, a lawyer and partner at Reese, Kintz, Guinasso in Reno who is running for Nevada Assembly, does not believe these funds are going toward education.
“Question 2 was written by the industry, for the industry,” said Guinasso. “This isn’t about raising revenue, it’s about a $3 billion
industry wanting to come to the state of Nevada and make money.”
Along with the discussion on money, both sides provided detailed arguments about the impact on youth of marijuana in the form of edibles and the potential harm to children.
“50 percent of marijuana is in the form of an edible, and it’s easy to market and sell,” said River Coyote, director for Tahoe Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence. “Putting this product into a candy makes it more dangerous.”
The opponents of Question 2 believe edibles will be commonly mistaken as normal treats to youth with tragic consequences. For pro-Question 2 individuals, this fear of confusion is not logical.
“This whole thing about edibles and it being unsafe marketing for children is absurd,” said Bankston. “You aren’t going to leave a legalized form of Adderall on a coffee table for a toddler to pick up, why are you going to leave a marijuana edible? That’s just about being a responsible human being.”
After much debate and deliberation, the discussion concluded two hours later, leaving Whyman satisfied with how the night went.
“Discussions like this are important because they have to do with a much larger society,” said Whyman. “Marijuana really is just the tip of an iceberg in terms of where this will go.”