Undecided voters hear both sides | RecordCourier.com

Undecided voters hear both sides

by Aurora Sain
asain@recordcourier.com

Panelists Bill Chernock, Jim Hartman and Will Adler chat before the start of a town hall debate on Tuesday night.

Undecided voters and people with questions regarding ballot issues came together this week to see if they could make up their mind.

Tuesday night's forum at the Douglas County and Community Center brought out interested voters to hear from both sides of the questions.

The issues debated were Question 2, or the legalization of recreational marijuana and the fuel revenue indexing question.

The two speakers on Question 2 were Jim Hartman, president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy and Will Adler, political director for the yes on 2 campaign.

Adler said that Nevada took its time in formulating this question and modeled it after the already heavily regulated medical marijuana field.

"There is an accountability that no other state has gotten to," said Adler.

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Adler said it isn't a question about whether or not marijuana should be available, since it is still available illegally, but if it should be heavily regulated and taxed.

"We are taking an illegal market, regulating it, taxing it and using it for something good," said Adler in reference to the estimated $20 million in taxes for schools.

Hartman said that the legislation is written by the marijuana industry designed to make those in the industry rich and there is no real benefit to legalizing it.

Some of the biggest problems that Hartman sees are the marijuana edibles in different forms such as cookies, candies and soda.

"The whole world of marijuana has changed," said Hartman. "Forty-five percent of the market in Colorado is for edibles. There are no rules for pot potency or advertising."

As the legislation is written, Hartman said that the Department of Taxation will be the ones regulating it.

Hartman said that in Colorado they had to hire 120 people to run the program, which would create more jobs, but ultimately not be worth it.

"The marijuana program will be government run," said Hartman.

Adler made the point that recreational marijuana would be safer than street marijuana since it is required to be lab tested and the edibles would be in childproof packaging.

"The only thing that has happened in Colorado is the schools have gotten more marijuana," said Hartman.

Hartman said that the $20 million for the schools is just a best-case scenario and the concern should lie more with the increase in hospital visits for kids' accidentally ingesting marijuana.

"$20 million is a lot more than $0," said Adler. "Our projections are on the low end of the scale."

Adler said that as for emergency room calls for accidental pot ingestion, the number went from 7 to 45.

In comparison, there were around 3,000 calls for kids who accidentally ate Tide Laundry Pods, 3,000 calls for kids who accidentally ate makeup and even more calls for kids who accidentally ate too many vitamins, said Adler.

Hartman said that legalizing marijuana in Colorado only encouraged more illegal activity including cartel involvement and traffic deaths.

"It is a real red flag for Nevada," said Hartman.

Adler said that the law wouldn't allow individuals to consume marijuana in public and is designed for 'adult use in a responsible setting'.

"This initiative is inadequately written," said Hartman. "There is no discussion of pot potency, this is an industry written bill."

Adler said that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol.

"Look at marijuana how it should be looked at, as a plant product," said Adler.

■The next debate was regarding the Douglas County issue of whether to allow fuel revenue indexing to support road maintenance.

The speakers on this issue were Executive Director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and CEO at BioFilm Management, Inc. Dan Wray.

The tax would not exceed 3 cents a year for up to 10 years, said Chernock who is in favor of the tax.

"Take a look at the needs we have," said Chernock.

Wray said that he might be in favor if it capped at 6 cents, but that's not guaranteed in the way that it is written.

"I believe this is the worst piece of legislation that has ever been written," said Wray.

Wray said that this tax is just another way for the government to take money from the people.

Chernock said that the tax was necessary since 100 percent of the funds generated would be used in Douglas County, which Wray disagreed with.

"I do not see that the county actually gets the money," said Wray.

Chernock said that with traffic expecting to grow, the roads are only going to continue to deteriorate.

"This is the enabling legislation that allow us to get the six cents," said Chernock. "Infrastructure is in a lot of trouble."