State of denial

It’s time for this state to join the 21st century. It’s time for the state to stop pretending that it’s 1939, the age of Reefer Madness. It’s time for this state to pull its big dumb head out of its big dumb ostrich hole and establish a sane, civilized, and eventually lucrative system of dispensaries for medical marijauna.

The citizens of Nevada approved the use of medical marijuana many years ago (2000 was the second time the MM initiative was passed, and it did so with 67 percent of the vote). But the legal reality that has evolved in the years after the initiative’s passage is a typically murky one: Nevadans with a medical marijuana permit may grow their own pot (7 plants max), but they may not buy it. And no entity is allowed to sell weed to those with permits.

What this does is basically ensure that the state of Nevada will in no way participate in what would be, if only slightly encouraged, a helpful new industry. That a state in desperate need of new streams of revenue has successfully and most unbrilliantly gone out of its way to guarantee that it will not make a nickel from an industry that’s waiting to bloom. It’s a policy that’s both moronic and nutless.

The issue needs to be addressed. Now. The state should allow and regulate pot shops. Since there aren’t any here in the Reno area, you might think that’s the way it is throughout Nevada. Wrong. In Vegas, there have been a few brave souls who’ve tried to operate dispensaries. It’s not been pleasant. They were raided by DEA agents in September, victims of goon-squad vibes that made it clear their continued operations were not going to be tolerated. And on Nov. 18, many of those dispensaries were raided again, this time relieved of their business licenses and informed they had 24 hours to close shop or face legal consequences. Unfortunately for the shop owners, the law isn’t on their side.

This is the legislature’s cue. The new session, which will convene again in February, needs to recognize that the current situation sucks, that there’s a real and pressing need for guidance and clarity here, and that that guidance and clarity must come from the lawmakers themselves.

Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to open dispensaries, the gross revenues of which could be taxed by the state. Those dispensaries should be allowed to purchase its products from Nevada growers, whose revenues could also be taxed. And the customers of those dispensaries, holders of taxed medical marijuana permits, could then easily purchase their goodies, which would send even more tax revenue into the currently starving state treasury.

We’ve been living in a horribly feeble and gutless situation involving medical pot for 10 years. So let’s fix it already.