Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Drug czar stumps against Nevada’s marijuana question

The nation's drug czar made the rounds today to Las Vegas news media outlets, including the Sun's editorial board, to make a pitch against passage of a Nevada ballot question to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

This was the second visit to Las Vegas this year by John Walters, whose official title is chief of the Office of National Drug Control Policy as part of a campaign to defeat Question 9. His first visit was in July.

Walters also was to meet with law enforcement officials and visit treatment centers, a spokesman said.

Question 9 proposes to allow people older than 21 to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana, which could be used at home but not in public places. The drug would be taxed and sold in licensed stores.

Question 9 would have to be approved by voters on Nov. 5 and again in 2004 to become law.

Walters has traveled recently to other states that have medical marijuana ballot questions, including Florida, where one newspaper quoted him as saying the argument for medical marijuana is the equivalent of "selling snake oil."

Nevada voters in 2000 overwhelming approved medical marijuana and the state Legislature last year passed the measure to allow its prescribed use.

Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, the group backing the ballot initiative, says the measure would allow critically ill patients to more easily obtain marijuana without paying high prices. It also would impose penalties on anyone caught smoking pot in public or selling marijuana to minors.

Opponents say marijuana is a potent and addictive drug that can lead to high-risk behavior.