Guns and pot go on ballot

State legislators were too timid to weigh in on gun control or legal marijuana, so the issues will go to Nevada voters to decide.

Under the state's initiative petition law, when petitions gain the required number of signatures, they are delivered to the Nevada Legislature for initial action. The lawmakers can approve them outright, enacting them into law without further action. They can also draft alternative versions of the same measures. Another option is ignoring the petitions entirely.

If they fail to approve the voter petitions within 40 days, they go directly onto the ballot at the next general election. Alternative legislative measures would appear on the ballot alongside the voter petitions.

Two initiative petitions circulated in Nevada in 2014 received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. They were delivered to the Legislature on Feb. 2. A petition that, if approved, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal, was introduced as Initiative Petition 1. It was circulated by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol a.k.a. Campaign to Regulate Marijuana. The second, a petition that would require background checks on certain firearm purchases, was designated I.P. 2. It was circulated by Nevadans for Background Checks.

Both measures were referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. On March 9, they were then returned to the full house without any recommendation for passage or defeat. Two days later, the Assembly voted to place the measures “on the chief clerk's desk,” a parliamentary maneuver that usually means no further action would be taken. As a result, on March 13 the two petitions will now go on the 2016 ballot.

The legislators can still draft alternative language to go on the ballot along with the voter petitions, but they are not expected to do so.

The two petitions can be read at