Yes, in your backyard

You want to see how democracy is not supposed to work? Take a look at the hysteria that’s going on down at the Washoe County Commission.

A couple of hundred NIMBYs are concerned about a medical marijuana dispensary being placed in the Galena Lodge. Public commenters have chosen a scorched earth strategy, attacking and threatening individual commissioners, particularly Kitty Jung, despite the chairwoman’s frequent admonishments to act like mannerly adults. They’re advocating a “We’re inside, close the door to development behind us.”

Many people in Washoe County remember what the Mt. Rose Highway looked like before developers destroyed that area. Many people are attacking commissioners on the basis that somehow a new business in an existing space will hurt the scenic views of that highway. It’s ludicrous.

This is yet another example of manufactured hysteria. People are positing all sorts of irrational scenarios as though there were some factual evidence to support them. People are going to get their medicine and go out behind the building into the national forest to spark up? Really, has that been a big problem around the country? Law enforcement will be unable to enforce drug laws? Probably pretty hard to convince the Washoe County sheriff’s office or the Reno Police Department of that fact. How about the precipitous drop in property values? As the economy has improved around the country, but particularly in Washoe County, property values have been skyrocketing—including in upscale areas like Galena where many residents have been known on occasion to toke up.

But it’s hysteria. There’s little truth to the anti-dispensary rhetoric. And while it’s hard to make a blanket statement, any time wealthy people attack a program designed to help the sick and needy, saying they’re doing it to protect “the children,” the delicate veneer of selflessness can be scraped off with a fingernail. The Galena location, remember, keeps it away from any schools.

Here’s the truth of the matter. The vast majority of those people moved into those houses well after the medical marijuana laws passed this state. For those who’ve forgotten, medical marijuana passed in this state by the will of the people. It was a citizen’s initiative first passed in 1998 by 241,463 votes in favor and then again in 2000 by 65.38 percent, 381,947 voters, which forced the Legislature to pass enabling legislation. The Nevada Legislature, following the direction of exactly the sort of hysterical, self-entitled fearmongers who are attacking the Washoe County Commissioners, created the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the nation, specifically designed to subvert the will of the people and to prevent sick people from getting medicine. It took 15 years to straighten them out.

The building where this dispensary will be housed has been a bar and restaurant for years. The problems caused by drunk drivers are well-known to society. Tens of thousands people have left that building after drinking alcohol. Nobody will use marijuana there. It virtually guarantees that more sober people will be leaving that parking lot than in years previous. On-site smoking is illegal, and it’s in the proprietors’ best interest to ensure it doesn’t happen. And just to be logical, why would anyone use marijuana illegally, when all they have to do is drive home to use it legally? To assume sick people are some reefer-addled junkies unable to make it home to take their medicine is simply absurd, and a denial of the hundreds of studies that show the beneficial properties of cannabis.

This hysterical NIMBYism isn’t helping anyone and can’t be supported by the Washoe County Commissioners.