Nevada bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use dies

CARSON CITY — Sorry tokers. You won’t be smoking legal marijuana anytime soon.

A bill to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in Nevada has died.

A dejected Assemblyman Joe Hogan blamed Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday for killing any hope of legislators passing his bill this session.

Hogan, D-Las Vegas, said Sandoval told legislative leaders he would veto Assembly Bill 402, his bill to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older.

As a result, the Assembly Judiciary Committee let the bill die without a vote Friday.

“We need to get rid of this governor,” Hogan said. “He is a huge disappointment.”

The governor’s office issued no new statements about the bill, other than re-releasing a statement Sandoval made earlier this week: “I was supportive of the constitutional amendment that allowed for the use of medical marijuana; I don’t support the decriminalization of marijuana possession.”

That means he supports the bill to create state-regulated dispensaries and grow farms for approved medical marijuana patients, but not marijuana for recreational use.

Voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in November’s election. Nevada voters twice, last in 2006, defeated ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana.

But Hogan said it is inevitable that marijuana eventually will be legalized in Nevada and many other states.

“It is too bad we won’t be first,” he said. “The governor has made sure we don’t get a tourism boom from marijuana.”

Hogan and Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, had calculated that Nevada would receive $470 million a year in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales. The money would have been given to the public schools.

During a hearing last week, police spoke against the bill, contending it would lead to more people driving while high, causing accidents. They also expressed concerns about young people getting pot.

Hogan conceded there could be more accidents because of stoned drivers, but he noted that there are many medications that could cause driving problems.

“You can’t micromanage everything,” he added.

Hogan, who turns 76 this year, has said he never has smoked marijuana but in a hearing said he would try it if the bill became law.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.