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Ballot Question 9
A Marijuana Legalization Initiative



Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement

(Marijuana Policy Project, Washington D.C.)



Nevada state ballot initiatives must be passed by voters in two consecutive elections and then taken to the legislature for final approval.

In 1998 and 2000, legalization proponents successfully sponsored an initiative to legalize marijuana as medicine.  The initiative, Question 9, passed both years, and the Nevada Legislature approved it. The legislature also reduced penalties for possession of 1 ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

The Marijuana Policy Project, from Washington D.C., set up a group it called Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement and sent its director of state programs, Billy Rogers, to Nevada to coordinate the collection of signatures for a new initiative this year (2002).  This initiative will, for the first time in any state, legalize marijuana for any use, not just medical use.  This initiative is also called Question 9, but it is an entirely different initiative that will change the state's constitution.  Its provisions have nothing to do with medical marijuana.  If the new Question 9 passes, voters will have to pass it again in 2004 before it can become law.



This initiative will legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana for everyone over age 21. It requires the state to grow, tax, and distribute marijuana to retail stores for sale to the public. A Las Vegas police officer rolled 3 ounces of confiscated marijuana into cigarettes, or "joints", and established that 3 ounces makes 255 joints.

Proponents claim driving under the influence of marijuana will be illegal. However, no test exists to determine when a driver is under the influence of the drug.

Proponents also claim that advertising marijuana will be banned. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Proponents claim it will be illegal to sell marijuana to anyone under age 21. Once a drug is legalized, however, and available for sale in stores, it is virtually impossible to prevent underage sales and use. One in five Nevada teenagers drinks alcohol and one in six smokes cigarettes, even though both are illegal for teenagers to purchase and use.



The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) of Washington D.C. contributed $575,000, while others contributed a total of $275 to date (August 2002). Press reports indicate that Peter Lewis gave MPP most if not all of the $575,000.



Qualified for the November 2002 ballot.



Compared to other states, Nevada ranks:
  3rd in past-month illicit drug use
13th (tied with 1 other state) in marijuana use
  1st in drug use other than marijuana
  1st (tied with 1 other state) in past-year drug dependence
  5th (tied with 5 other states) in drug or alcohol dependence
(1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse)

Details, Use
Details, Dependence


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