Nevada Assembly Considers Ending Marijuana Ban - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Nevada Assembly Considers Ending Marijuana Ban

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Supporters of AB402 address committee members Supporters of AB402 address committee members

State lawmakers are considering a measure that ends the prohibition on recreational marijuana use in Nevada and funnels the tax revenues toward the under funded state education system.

Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Hogan of Las Vegas presented AB402 to members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee Friday. "We proposed to create a system where a product grown in Nevada, processed in Nevada and sold in Nevada will be taxed and used to educate the children of Nevada."

His co-sponsor Assemblyman Andrew Martin, also a Democrat from Clark County, estimates the take at $500 million a year for retail taxes and he says they'll tax producers, processors and retailers and users. "That puts us at a billion and a half. This is huge, and whether we legalize it or not, the market will still be there."

The bill allows the recreational use of marijuana with similar regulatory laws to that of alcohol. Users would have to be at least 21 years old, and would be prohibited from driving while under the influence of the drug.

The law would not require employers to allow workers to use marijuana while on company time or property; similarly, landlords could prohibit marijuana on their property.

Supporters also argued it would increase tourism - and increase restaurant revenues.

But lawmakers had basic questions of legality.

"First we gotta find out if it's legal federally and there's this irony - why were trying to get people to stop smoking tobacco yet encourage them to smoke marijuana," says Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R) District 32. 

Karen O'Keefe of the Marijuana Policy Project adds, "The questions comes up would the government sue to stop a state from regulating marijuana. I believe they would not go so far as to sue and if they did they'd lose."

Opponents argue the drug destroys families and that legalizing pot wouldn't eliminate a criminal subculture associated with it.

A host of law enforcement officers testified against it.

"Is marijuana a gateway drug? I don't know but I can tell you the majority of felon drug users have used it," says Kristin Erickson of the Nevada District Attorneys Association.

"In respect to drivers, we need reaction times to be as quick as possible, not we don't want slow drivers with slow reaction times," says Washoe County Lt. Eric Spratley.

And that was just the judicial committee - the bill will also have to be heard by the actual money committees.

To read the bill yourself, go to http://leg.state.nv.us/Session/77th2013/Bills/AB/AB402.pdf

Meanwhile, late last month, Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas presented SB374 to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill sets the framework for establishing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada, and it allows for those dispensaries to operate store fronts for registered medical marijuana patients.

The hearing came a week after Segerblom took several committee members to tour a medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona.

That venture led to proposed amendments, such as changing the dispensaries from non-profit to for-profit and increasing fees associated with starting and operating a dispensary.

Opponents argue the fees and prices are too high and registered patients should be able to grow more of their own. (AP)

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