Welcome to today's ClearCast!
The most discussed Ballot Question this year is Question 2, regarding Nevada marijuana.
Specifically, the ballot question asks the following:
Shall the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to allow a person, 21 years old or older, to purchase, cultivate, possess, or consume a certain amount of marijuana or concentrated marijuana, as well as manufacture, possess, use, transport, purchase, distribute, or sell marijuana paraphernalia; impose a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale sales of marijuana; require the regulation and licensing of marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, distributors, suppliers, and retailers; and provide for certain criminal penalties?
We begin our discussion with the premise: How can we vote on a legality of a substance without knowing what it is?
We just did not know enough about Nevada marijuana to decide if we should be in favor or oppose Question 2
In turn, we visited Andrew Jolley(proprietor of The Source in Henderson) and he was willing to answer a few of our questions.
Mr. Jolley could not have been nicer, and we appreciated his hospitality very much.
We hope that if some of you out there have questions about Nevada marijuana that this will be informative.
Tomorrow, we are scheduled to sit down with Pat Hickey of the 'No on 2' campaign so he explain the opposing position.
Thanks for watching!
Inquiring Into the Tough Issues Surrounding Nevada Marijuana Ballot Question 2
Jordan: Hi, I'm attorney Jordan Flake, with Clear Counsel Law Group, and welcome to another ClearCast. Today, we're really excited to be joined by Andrew Jolley. Thank you for being willing to join us. We're here, at The Source, which is a medical marijuana dispensary, and ClearCast is our law firm's web production that we do on a fairly often basis. We are trying to take all of the ballot initiatives, one by one, and just try to get an education about them, so that everybody who watches this will have a better understanding so that they can go to the polls with an idea of what they're really voting for.
I've got to be honest, Andrew. I am someone who is pretty naïve about marijuana. I have a generally negative perception towards marijuana. It conjures up images of people just having fun and being irresponsible, and it conjures it up images of crime and drug dealing and things of that nature, so I'm a little bit of a fish out of water in this environment. What can you tell us about marijuana? What can you tell us about some of my perceptions and how you have had to deal with that as you've opened this medical marijuana dispensary?
Andrew: First of all, you're not alone. I grew up with the same negative perception of marijuana, and I think we do ourselves a disservice when we lump all drugs into one category. I think we would all understand that there's a difference between prescription drugs and opiate prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs and drugs that are instantly addictive and can kill you, versus drugs that can't kill you.
I think there is a very general misperception about marijuana and the history of marijuana and why it's illegal is absolutely fascinating for me. It started in the 1930s when there was a prohibition put against marijuana, and then it was solidified in the 1970s, in 1970 through the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 that President Nixon pushed.
The bottom line is that marijuana is largely misunderstood. It's a natural plant that has a lot of medicinal benefits and is not nearly as dangerous as the Reefer Madness type mentality and propaganda made it out to be. Is it a cure all? Absolutely not. Is it healthy for children? Absolutely not, but we need to look at it for what it is and use reason and fact and science instead of the propaganda of the past.
Jordan: I think that's what we're getting at. For our viewers out there, if they want to vote in favor of the measure or against the measure, that's definitely their decision, but what I think would bother me if I were you is that people are relying on what I just expressed, which is just a natural, I would almost call it a lazy fear of marijuana, rather than actually getting down and understanding, "Here's why I am against it," or, "Here's why I am in favor of it."
What can you tell us about this question two? Can you just, for the benefit of our viewing audience, what's on the table with question two? What's it really getting at, and where you stand on why you believe it should pass.
Andrew: Sure. Thank you. Question two is a ballot initiative here in Nevada that's on the ballot this election cycle on November 8th, and question two, if passed, will allow adults who are 21 years and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for their personal use. There are a few things that I need to explain that it will not do.
The initiative will not take away patient's rights under the medical marijuana program. It will not allow for public consumption. It will not allow for the sale to minors, and it will not change employers' rights to drug testing and to having their own drug policies.
Jordan: So a construction company could still say, "No marijuana, and we can test you," and the public consumption thing, I don't have to worry about going down to a show or something and having my kids deal with a bunch of stoned people who are sitting there smoking marijuana and my kids getting secondhand smoke. Basically, I just have to deal with alcoholics tripping over themselves.
Andrew: Yes. Alcohol is allowed to be consumed in public here in Las Vegas, but marijuana is not and it will not be allowed to be consumed publicly if question two passes.
Jordan: Then, the minors, of course, still out of the question for anyone under the age of 18, or 21?
Jordan: 21, okay, so it's out of the question for people under the age of 21. I imagine getting marijuana legally and then administering it to minors is also illegal?
Andrew: Well, if they have a medical marijuana patient card, it is legal for minors, and that is legal today.
Jordan: What we know, what we can compare marijuana to a little bit is already our familiarity with alcohol and alcohol laws and things of that nature. Now, they're obviously different because you can consume alcohol in public, but what are some of the differences? What if I were just to say, "Okay, Andrew, so what you're saying is marijuana is just like alcohol." You say, "No, that's what what you're saying." How do you compare marijuana and alcohol?
Andrew: Well, I believe we should regulate marijuana like alcohol, because that's been effective. I think we can all agree that the prohibition of alcohol was a disaster.
Jordan: Like the 1920s prohibition.
Andrew: That was an utter disaster, right?
Andrew: It created a lot of organized crime. There was a lot of violence, and the entire market just went underground. The same thing is happening with marijuana today. There's a misperception that marijuana is not in our community and that by passing question two, it will come into our community. The reality is it's already here. Just ask my 14 year old daughter, who goes to middle school. She hears about this stuff.
It's already in our community, so the whole purpose of question two is take marijuana out of the black market, the criminal market, the cartel market, the drug dealer market, and put it into a regulated legal market where we can test it to make sure it's safe, we can package it in child-proof packaging so that it can't be accessed by children accidentally, and we can tax it.
By the way, all of the taxes for question two, 100% of the tax proceeds, will go to funding our K through 12 education, which as you probably know, is 48th out of 50 in the nation, and something that we desperately need here in Nevada, so the idea is not to say that marijuana is just like alcohol as a substance, because marijuana is much safer than alcohol as a product. What we're saying, though, is that we should regulate it like alcohol because the regulatory framework for alcohol has been successful in keeping alcohol out of the black market and into a legal, regulated market.
Jordan: I really appreciate the explanation. I have a question for you here about some ads that I've seen on TV. I saw one ad that says that instances of marijuana car accidents, marijuana related DUIs resulting in car accidents, have increased in Colorado by 13%, if I remember correctly. What can you say about that? How would you respond to the possibility? I'm a voter. I'm afraid that people are going to be smoking marijuana and driving dangerously on the roads. How do you respond to that?
Andrew: Well, ironically, DUIs in the state of Colorado are down 19% since 2014 when they legalized marijuana, and so what's happening is more people in Colorado are choosing to use marijuana instead of alcohol. There's still an issue with driving impaired, but that is not unique to marijuana.
We should be ensuring that our roads are safe and that drivers are not driving impaired under any substance, but it just so happens that driving under the influence of marijuana, while not something that I would encourage at all and I think needs to be stopped, is much safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. That's why you've seen an overall decrease in DUIs, but there's then a slight increase of the proportion of people who have marijuana in their system.
Something else I should note is that there's a scientific reason for that, too, unlike alcohol, which leaves your system in a matter of hours, your metabolites of marijuana stay in your system for 30 to 90 days, and so they're having to wrestle with these issues in Colorado, and we'll have to address them here in Nevada if question two passes, but overall, marijuana is much safer than alcohol. A recent report showed that it's 114% times safer than alcohol, and overall DUIs are down 19% in Colorado.
Jordan: Overall, there's a net reduction in DUIs. It's just that the proportion of those DUIs that do exist involve the [inaudible 00:09:16] marijuana continuing in the system and potentially not even contributing necessarily to the accident.
Okay, so the next one really concerns me, which is children being admitted to the emergency room because they came across gummy bears, which that's what my kids would do. If they find gummy bears in the house, they're going to pop a few in their mouth, and the idea for me as a parent, probably not in our house, but maybe at some friend's house and finding some gummy bears, popping those in their mouth, that actually worries me. I don't want that to happen anywhere. Can you respond to that ad? You've seen that ad.
Andrew: Yes. I've seen those ads. Protecting our children is no doubt something that we all have in common and we all should agree upon, but we need to put it in context and we need to look at facts versus hype.
Number one, gummy bears, marijuana-infused gummy bears, are illegal in Colorado, so these ads that you're seeing with gummy bears falling out of the sky, that would illegal. They're not allowed, so in Colorado, you cannot produce edibles, marijuana edibles, that take the shape of a human figure, animals, or fruit. We will have the same restrictions in Nevada.
Additionally, everything that we sell under the medical marijuana program and everything that will be sold under the adult use program has to be sold in child-proof packaging, so something like a vial that we're used to in the prescription drug world, all marijuana products will have to be sold in something like that to prevent usage among children.
Getting back to your original question, in 2014, there were 45 instances of children who accidentally consumed marijuana products that were reported to poison control in Colorado.
Jordan: That's still more than you want.
Andrew: Absolutely. One is too many. However, there were 1,422 reports of children accidentally consuming cleaning supplies that same year, so 3% of cleaning supplies, and by the way, marijuana cannot kill you. It can make you tired. It can put you to sleep or in a very tired state.
Jordan: It can make you relax. It can make you see the world differently. Just kidding. I don't know. These ER things, visits, left open my perception of maybe these kids overdosed and died from their marijuana consumption.
Andrew: No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose in the history of cannabis and humans. We've been consuming cannabis for thousands of years, our species has, and no one has ever died from it.
Jordan: Wow, okay.
Andrew: Let's put it in context. Let's consider an accidental marijuana ingestion, which would be bad and no one wants, in the context of the accessibility of alcohol, of prescription drugs, or cleaning supplies, of Tide Pods. You've seen those Tide Pods you can use as detergent?
Jordan: I've had my little daughter grab those and try to open them and stuff like that, and that would hurt her, and that could potentially be fatal, but what you're saying is that we're looking at is not going to be fatal.
Andrew: That's correct.
Jordan: Under these circumstances, the packaging is going to be in the kid-proof packages, is that correct?
Andrew: That is correct. Everything that will be sold will be sold in child-proof packaging.
Jordan: Andrew, I think one of the biggest concerns that a lot of our viewers and a lot of my friends and family have is that drugs are just immoral. Drugs are a way for people to cope, and they're not a productive way for people to cope. It takes them out of reality. Even if marijuana is not necessarily addictive, it's habit-forming, and people might just rely on that rather than solving their problems in more productive ways.
I'm not sure I want my kids to grow up in a world and in a state that says, "Oh, marijuana usage, that's okay." I'm a parent and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. How do you respond to this morality type question when you come to an opposition to question two?
Andrew: Sure. I totally understand that, but at the end of the day, I think adults should have that choice to make for themselves, and it shouldn't be legislated by our government. For example, I choose not to drink alcohol. I've never tasted alcohol, to be honest with you, which may surprise you, somebody growing up in Las Vegas, but I have no problem with friends or family drinking a glass of wine with their dinner if they so choose, and it turns out that marijuana has been shown to be 114 times safer than alcohol, so I think we have a bit of a hypocritical approach to marijuana, because if people are really outraged about the morality of marijuana, they should be 114 times more outraged about criminalizing alcohol.
That's how I would compare it. I believe in personal freedoms. I think that adults should make that decision for themselves. It shouldn't be made for them by the government, and unlike alcohol, marijuana has a lot of proven health benefits. Alcohol doesn't do anything good for your body. It's essentially a poison to your body. Marijuana is a neural protectant and has a host of health benefits.
At the end of the day, I completely understand that point of view, Jordan. In fact, I shared that point of view during part of my life. However, at the end of the day, I think it comes down to personal freedom. Do we believe that adults over the age of 21 should have the ability to make that decision for themselves, or should it be made by the federal government, or in this case, our state government?
If we say that it should be illegal, then we need to accept the consequences as a society knowing that it will remain as a stimulant to the criminal market, and all of the implications of that, not to mention the legal justice system of having people go to prison and be arrested for minor possession, which is still happening in our country at alarming rates, and something that I think needs to be fixed.
Jordan: It's funny that you mentioned that in Arizona, where I think there's a question on the ballot as well, there's a company that provides foods to prisons, and they donated something like $80,000 to oppose the legalization of marijuana in Arizona.
The implication, if you're a company that provides food to prisoners, you want there to be a lot of prisoners, and you're sitting there saying, "Man, if marijuana passes, there's going to be less prisoners in our system and the food company's profits are going to go down," so they're sitting here paying to oppose marijuana efforts. They're relying on good data that shows that if we legalize marijuana, that would potentially reduce prison populations.
Andrew: That's exactly right. The two biggest industries who have donated to the Arizona Legalization Initiative are the private prison industry, including the food manufacturers, and the pharmaceutical industry. The maker of fentanyl, a drug that is 80 times stronger than heroin, they just wrote a check for half a million dollars last week to oppose the legalization effort in Arizona.
This whole issue of marijuana legalization, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, is a fascinating cultural business societal issue because it has so many implications, including business interests that we're seeing a lot of push back from those kinds of businesses trying to protect themselves, unfortunately, in my opinion, at the detriment of our community. I just don't think people should be arrested and thrown in prison for personal use of marijuana.
Jordan: Right, and also, you're saying that if marijuana became, for an individual, a good alternative to fentanyl or some other type of opiate, then that's a better thing, because marijuana isn't as dangerous.
Andrew: It's not as addictive and it's not going to kill you, and it has health benefits, unlike these poisons that kill our liver and really do a lot of damage to our body. In fact, Jordan, the amount of opioid abuse in Colorado has dropped significantly since legalization. We have an example of legalization in Colorado, and there are unique challenges, no doubt, but overall, the signs are very positive, and it's working in their community.
Jordan: Well, I really appreciate this, and I feel like we could definitely talk more about this. This has been very eye-opening for me. Like I said at the beginning, I'm somebody who just has a natural negative reaction to marijuana, but I admit that you are telling me a lot of things that I didn't know, that my wife and I are going to have to talk about these things and dig into the facts and science, and hopefully not just make the decision based on some kind of knee jerk reaction to this image that we've conjured up, like you said, of Reefer Madness.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk us through it. I really appreciate it, Andrew. If anybody has any comments on this, and I hope you do, please leave a comment, please share the video. If someone out there feels like Andrew made some sort of misrepresentations or made some bad arguments, let us know.
We're a law firm. We're all about getting arguments and different view points here. Thank you so much for joining us on ClearCast, and we'll see you next time.