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Group promoting pot measure working to win support

CARSON CITY — A group pushing a November ballot measure to legalize the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana in Nevada is getting a campaign to win voter support underway.

In an email announcement last week, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol put out information it hopes will convince voters to support the initiative petition.

The measure would legalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for recreational use for people who are at least 21 years old. It would prohibit giving or selling marijuana to minors, driving under the influence of marijuana and using marijuana in public. The Nevada Department of Taxation would issue licenses for the legal pot trade.

If voters approve the measure, the current medical marijuana program would be expanded to cover all adults without the need of a physician’s approval. The petition received enough signatures in 2014 to send it to the 2015 Legislature, which failed to act on it. The decision now rests in the hands of voters.

The group cites a number of benefits if the measure is approved:

■ Eliminating the criminal market. Marijuana’s illegal status has done very little to prevent the use of marijuana over the past few decades, the group said. The Economist recently reported that 70 percent of sales in Colorado are now conducted through licensed stores, not the black market.

■ Generating tax revenue. When marijuana sales occur in the criminal market, potential tax revenues are lost forever. But the group notes that in Colorado in 2015, sales of medical and adult-use marijuana generated more than $135 million in sales and excise taxes. Nevada’s marijuana sales would be subject to taxes as well.

■ Controlling sales through regulation. Campaign spokesperson Joe Brezny said that if the measure passes, licensed businesses would have to test their marijuana and marijuana products to ensure that they are safe and properly labeled. They would have to package marijuana products so that they cannot be accidentally consumed by children. And they will have to check identification of consumers to ensure that they do not sell marijuana to minors.

“Each time you share this kind of information, we get one step closer to making marijuana legal in Nevada!” the group said in the email. “Together, we can win.”

Some opposition to the proposal is emerging. Former state Assemblyman Pat Hickey of Reno, who is now serving on the state Board of Education, has begun a campaign to fight the measure.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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