Yes on Two

There are problems with Nevada’s ballot Question Two, and opponents of the measure have been making good use of them.

For instance, Minden prohibitionist Jim Hartman has written, “It qualified for the ballot as a result of pot promoters paying $660,000 to mercenary signature-gatherers. Passage will give monopoly powers to existing medical marijuana retailers and liquor wholesalers. … ’Big Marijuana’ wants to buy—through an initiative—that which they could not achieve in the scrutiny and compromise required by the legislative process.”

Take note that the measure got on the ballot through 247,000 mercenary signature givers—all of them registered Nevada voters. That was more than twice the required number of signatures.

It’s true that Question Two limits initial licenses to existing medical marijuana licensees. Nevada Medical Marijuana Association spokesperson Will Adler told us he believes the players who took early risks investing should have a leg up on newcomers seeking to enter the field. We’re not wild about the restriction, but it’s certainly true that Citicorp or Harrah’s or Jim Beam weren’t lining up for the chance to open a dispensary 10 years ago.

As for achieving through the ballot what they could not through the legislative process, in fact, state legislators got the first crack at this ballot measure. It was submitted to the 2015 Nevada Legislature so lawmakers could write a better version. They chose not to.

Then there is “Big Marijuana” from out of state. All we can say is that no one objected to Big Tesla—and Big Marijuana is at least willing to pay its own way. Tesla held the state up for a vast bundle of corporate welfare, some of which it later sold off. When it comes to having a little class, marijuana has it over Musk every time.

Even if all these things were problems, we would still support Question Two because it is time for the public to do something about the War on Drugs and the carnage it causes. In 1929, Republican leader Pauline Sabin switched sides in the alcohol prohibition fight and came out for repeal of prohibition. She was tired of the damage done to family in the United States, tired of the crime generated by prohibition, tired of the violence and disrespect for law. “The young see the law broken at home and upon the street,” she said. “Can we expect them to be lawful?” She led the effort for prohibition repeal.

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken on alcohol prohibition, there’s not less drug use in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.

Good people are injured by prohibition while a pack of liars spreads the same hoary old pack of lies.

And marijuana prohibition is the worst part of the drug war. Ignorance of the plant, corruption in enforcement, rupture of families, pointless imprisonment, all for a nonviolent crime that causes no one injury except—very rarely—users themselves. We can tolerate the quibbles about Question Two’s provisions, since state government will be able to create regulation. What we can’t tolerate any more is prohibition.