Question 9 Opponents Rally Against Marijuana 

Question 9 Opponents Rally Against Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on September 28, 2002 at 14:55:32 PT
By J.M. Kalil, Review-Journal 
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal 
Making it legal to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana would transform Las Vegas into a haven for potheads, said one of several Question 9 opponents who rallied campaigners Friday. "We will have nothing but a continuous, 24-7 Grateful Dead concert here," Las Vegas Deputy Police Chief Bill Young told an applauding crowd of volunteers who are campaigning against the ballot measure that would ease Nevada's marijuana laws. 
At an event that at times resembled a high school pep rally, opponents of Question 9 clapped frequently as they heard fiery anti-marijuana comments from speakers who said passage of the measure would erode public safety as well as Nevada's overall quality of life. The battle over the ballot initiative that would give Nevada the most liberal marijuana laws in the United States is becoming increasingly nasty in its tone. Activists on both sides of an issue being watched nationally began slinging serious mud Friday, calling each other liars misrepresenting the effects Question 9 would have on Nevada. With the election less than seven weeks away, pro- and anti-initiative lobbyists expressed little surprise Friday that their campaigns were now teeming with hot-blooded personal attacks. "We're not a bunch of robots. It's a very emotional issue," said STOP DUI Executive Director Sandy Heverly, one of several members of the newly formed Nevadans Against Legalizing Marijuana. "It's something we can't distance ourselves from, because we feel like we're all going to pay for it if it passes. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't become more heated." At the rally inside Elks Lodge No. 1468, Clark County prosecutor Gary Booker told about 75 fellow anti-initiative campaigners that passage of the ballot question would harm all Nevadans with negative social effects, such as increasing children's access to marijuana. He accused the group backing the measure, Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, of lying about the nature of the initiative to get more than 100,000 residents to sign the petition that landed it on the November ballot. Booker said the NRLE is financed by "rich fat cat guys back East" who want to use Nevada as the laboratory for a drug legalization experiment. "Go sell drugs in your own neighborhood. We don't want them here," Booker said before urging NRLE spokesman Billy Rogers, a Texas native, to leave the state. "If Mr. Rogers thinks this is such a great idea, why doesn't Mr. Rogers go back to Mr. Rogers' neighborhood in Texas and pass this?" If Nevada voters pass Question 9 in November and again in two years, people 21 and older will be able to legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana in their home, but not in vehicles or public places. Use of the drug by minors also would remain illegal, as would driving under the influence of marijuana. The drug also would be sold in state-licensed smoke shops and taxed. Currently, possession of 1 ounce or less or marijuana in Nevada is a misdemeanor subject to a $600 fine for the first two offenses. In response to Booker's statements, Rogers said Booker has frequently misled the public about the implications of the initiative, including a blunder earlier this week in which he incorrectly stated during a televised debate that medical marijuana patients have access to marijuana seeds through the state Agriculture Division. Many Question 9 backers say a flaw in the medical marijuana law passed last year results in patients being forced to buy the drug illegally from street dealers. Rogers also said a recent legal opinion by Las Vegas attorney JoNell Thomas contradicts Booker's assertion that passage of the initiative would nullify current state laws that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana. Thomas concluded that those statutes would be unaffected by the initiative's passage. "They will say anything. They're desperate," Rogers said. "Gary Booker has a long record in this short campaign of not telling the truth and just making things up. He's a district attorney, in a position of authority and people trust what he says, but it's simply not true." In a speech at the rally, Sheriff Jerry Keller said passing the measure would result in a "public safety nightmare" in Las Vegas. Other speakers at Friday's rally made Biblical allusions in describing their battle against what they view as a well-financed group run by non-Nevadans jamming drug decriminalization through the Silver State. Heverly compared the NRLE to a Goliath pouring giant sums of cash into Nevada to campaign for passage of the initiative. But Heverly, clutching a slingshot in her hands, said Nevada has 1,000 Davids who will work tirelessly to ensure that marijuana laws are not loosened. "Anybody with an ounce or 3 ounces of common sense is going to vote no on Question 9," she told the cheering group. A few made more personal appeals. "This is a very personal issue for me because my son is an addict and it started out with marijuana," said Cherrell Tarantino, a Las Vegas real estate agent. Stifling tears as she spoke, Tarantino said her 18-year-old recently returned home after battling a drug problem for more than three years. She said drugs devastated her family's life, as it has hundreds of other valley families. "He's partly alive because the law is there, because the law interceded," she said. "I applaud the legal system because, without that, he would be dead."Complete Title: Question 9 Opponents Rally Against Easing Marijuana Possession LawsSource: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)Author: J.M. Kalil, Review-JournalPublished: Saturday, September 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Review-JournalContact: letters lvrj.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:NRLE Policy Project of the West Puff At A Time - Economist UK About Pot Initiative Becomes Heated Up The Debate on Pot 
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