Shelly Aldean: What happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas

Just as many of us predicted, the legalization of recreational pot has now led to the introduction of legislation allowing for the establishment of pot lounges throughout Nevada.

AB409 would require the licensing of pot lounges by all local jurisdictions subject only to certain perfunctory restrictions. The proposed legislation specifically states “A board of county commissioners shall not arbitrarily or unreasonably limit the number of licenses issued...” nor shall a board of county commissioners establish or collect a fee for the issuance or renewal of a license that exceeds the fee charged for a business license for similar businesses.

Although the initiative passed by Nevada voters (by a narrow margin of approximately 100,000 votes primarily from Clark County) legalizing the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana respected the autonomy of local governments by allowing local jurisdictions to essentially “zone out” marijuana dispensers in their cities and towns, the Nevada Legislature is now poised to “shove” these lounges down the throats of Nevada’s communities with an insensitive and callous disregard for the desire of many residents, especially in the rurals, who are trying desperately to maintain some semblance of innocence and a healthy, family-oriented lifestyle. The theory seems to be since Nevada is home to so many other vices why not simply add another.

It’s important to note nearly all states “legalizing” marijuana allow for local governments to “opt out” and most rural counties, on the national level, have exercised this option. This precedent should be followed in Nevada as well.

In a 2016 article in the Reno Gazette Journal entitled “Green is the New Color of Greed in Nevada,” former Nevada Assemblyman Pat Hickey challenged his good friend State Sen. Tick Segerblom, Nevada’s foremost pot enthusiast, to tell him “how making the Las Vegas Strip into the Amsterdam of the West” was going help Nevada’s majority-minority student populations overcome their serious achievement gaps and excel academically to secure a brighter future?

The obsession with expanding the presence of recreational marijuana in our state has nothing to do with the welfare of our children or any alleged benefits to society in general but has everything to do with unbridled greed. According to Hickey, even President Obama once opined, “Students who smoke marijuana have twice the odds of being a high school dropout. And have trouble finding jobs, get involved in gangs and crime and end up on welfare.” What a fabulous legacy to leave our children.

Even though Hickey’s admonitions fell on deaf ears with the passage of Question 2, there’s no need to make matters worse by insinuating pot lounges into the hearts and social centers of communities who simply don’t want them. Are our legislators beholden to the people they represent or to an industry that has an insatiable appetite for profits just like the tobacco industry that so many politicians abhor?

Resentment of this legislature’s wonton disregard for the concerns of rural Nevada is leading to unprecedented pushback furthering the divide between urban centers and outlying areas. One way of respecting the concerns and desires of these more rural and suburban communities, would be to respect the individual authority of each Board of Supervisors and County Commission, by allowing these local governing bodies to decide the issue for themselves based on the express desire of their constituents.

In a sentence “What happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas!”

Shelly Aldean is former member of the Carson City Board of Supervisors.


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