On Monday, Nevada became the latest state to see a marijuana legalization bill filed this year. Assemblyman Joe Hogan (D-Las Vegas) introduced Assembly Bill 402, which would allow people 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and would set up a system of state regulation and taxation of marijuana commerce.
Nevada now joins Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Oregon as states where legalization bills have been or will be filed. A legalization bill died earlier this year in Hawaii, and one died last week in New Hampshire, but another New Hampshire legalization bill is still alive.
The Nevada bill expressly does not allow driving while impaired, does not require employers to accept marijuana use, and limits legalization to those 21 and over.
Marijuana has already been legalized by voters in Colorado and Washington, and the Alaska courts have recognized a privacy right allowing for the possession of small amounts of marijuana in one's home. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Hogan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he introduced the bill because of what he called the persecution of young people.
"I think it's better than chasing young kids around the neighborhoods, endlessly, and damaging them," he said. "We've been wasting terrible amounts of money on these completely unsuccessful law enforcement techniques. I think it's time to get serious, get it fixed and move on."
Hogan said that marijuana legalization would raise badly needed money for the state's education system. It envisions excise taxes on both wholesale and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana products.
"There's enough tax money in this line of products to properly and fully support education in the state of Nevada, which we have failed to do for a number of years," Hogan said.
The bill is the brainchild of Dr. Steven Frye, a retired Las Vegas psychiatrist and marijuana legalization activist. Frye told the Review-Journal legalization could generate as much as $500 million a year in tax revenues.
"It's a big tourist issue," he said. "And we create green jobs in Nevada growing, processing and selling it."