Guy W. Farmer: Pot moratorium in Carson City

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Even though a couple of our city supervisors are overly enthusiastic about “recreational” marijuana, I commend Mayor Bob Crowell and the board for slapping a six-month moratorium on the sale of recreational marijuana in Carson City.

But I think the city and the state of Nevada should follow the lead of liberal Massachusetts and impose a minimum one-year moratorium on recreational marijuana. Question 2, which passed in November despite the fact it failed in Carson on a 52-48 vote, and 12 of Nevada’s 17 counties, will authorize at least two pot shops in every county, and four in Carson whether we want them or not.

“(The moratorium) was pretty straightforward,” said Carson Community Development Director Lee Plemel. “We did the same with medical marijuana when it passed. This is just a period to take a breath and see what the state does.”

That’s a question the State Legislature will answer when it convenes here next month.

The Nevada Health and Human Services Department has run the medical marijuana program since 2000, but the Department of Taxation will have the daunting challenge of administering and enforcing the recreational marijuana program. I say “daunting” because Question 2 will require the state to spend much more than the already allocated $900,000 and hire far more than the four employees currently on the payroll to collect the taxes and enforce provisions of the new law. Those unwelcome realities will soon become clear to Gov. Brian Sandoval (who opposed Question 2), the Legislature and the Taxation Department.

An early warning sign about the regulation of legal marijuana occurred recently when more than 11,000 medical marijuana card applicants’ records were exposed on the Public Behavioral Health Division’s website, records that revealed the applicants’ names, race, home addresses and citizenship.

My friend and Monday lunch buddy Jim Hartman, who’s president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy, wrote recently Question 2 opponents — including most of our elected officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals — “focused on marijuana ‘edibles’ and small children. Few Nevada voters knew they were voting to enact a self-serving, 13-page initiative written by the commercial marijuana industry for the promoters’ benefit.”

In his State of the State address, Gov. Sandoval proposed a new 10 percent retail sales tax on recreational marijuana sales on top of the existing 15 percent wholesale tax, with all proceeds going to education. And he promised to limit the sales of pot products “that appeal to children and could be mistaken for candy.” Kudos to the governor because the issue of marijuana “edibles” such as brownies, cookies and gummy bears should be taken seriously by all concerned including Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Las Vegas Democrat who wants to turn Nevada into the Amsterdam of the West.

Therefore, I urge Carson supervisors and state lawmakers to impose minimum one-year moratoriums on recreational pot shops — Massachusetts enacted an 18-month moratorium — and I think the Legislature should ban the sale of marijuana edibles in the Silver State. I base my opinion on a recent study commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences finding regular marijuana use results in “an increased risk of car crashes, lower birth weight babies, and problems with memory and attention,” not to mention “strong connections between heavy cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia.”

That’s what Nevada voters approved last November. Good luck to the Taxation Department in attempting to administer and enforce a deeply flawed law financed and promoted by the marijuana industry itself — what Jim Hartman calls “Big Marijuana.”

During his 28-year U.S. Foreign Service career, Guy W. Farmer worked on anti-drug programs in seven countries.


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