Illustration by Cierra Pedro

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana on November Ballot

While airwaves and column inches may still be on a post-convention buzz, the presidential campaigns are not the only ones kicking into high gear. Supporters of Question 2, the ballot initiative that would legalize and tax adult recreational marijuana use in Nevada, are amping up their efforts in advance of November 8.

“It’s an issue that everyone is aware of and a lot of people have an opinion on,” says Joe Brezny, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Our work now is to organize the folks who have been supporters for years and build coalitions with support groups. We’ve had groups of veterans, groups of former law enforcement officers and even a group of schoolteachers come to the table and say they realize regulation is a better way.”

Changing public opinion has supporters optimistic. At a Las Vegas fundraiser for the Marijuana Policy Project last month, longtime advocate U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, said, “We’ve reached the point in this country where now we have a strong majority that favors legalization.” He noted that 10 states will vote for recreational marijuana. “This is a watershed year … We have had six votes on the floor of this House of Representatives that are pro-cannabis that have passed.”

To encourage the positive take on legalization, the Coalition has released a study by Las Vegas-based RCG Economics and the Marijuana Policy Group on the potential economic impact of adult recreational marijuana in Nevada. Their forecast states that it could create more than 6,200 jobs in our state and generate $1.1 billion in economic activity by 2024. As for fiscal benefits, the study estimates that sales, use and excise tax revenues could be more than $400 million in the first seven years.

Supporters are also getting a bit of a jump-start on their opposition. However, gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson’s vehemently anti-cannabis stance and open wallet looms; additionally, several well-funded out-of-state organizations are beginning to get involved. Recreational marijuana has failed on the Nevada ballot twice, but Brezny is hopeful: “Public opinion has caught up, and it’s fair to say that people are ahead of elected officials on this.”