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Upsides and downsides of legalizing recreational marijuana in Nevada debated

With just 38 days until Election Day, supporters and opponents gathered to debate the burning question: Should Nevadans legalize recreational marijuana?

The measure, Question 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot, would legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and allow for the sale of the drug to adults 21 and over.

The roundtable, which was recorded Friday afternoon at Vegas PBS Channel 10, included four panelists. Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani and Joe Brezy, a spokesman for the measure’s sponsor, Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, spoke in favor; while Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Todd Raybuck and Pat Hickey, spokesman for the recently formed anti-Question 2 PAC Protecting Nevada’s Children, argued against it.

Hickey called the measure “a poorly drafted initiative” that would lead to marijuana advertising directed at children while Brezny argued that regulating the drug would instead help keep it out of the hands of youth by pushing sales into storefronts where underage would-be buyers would be carded and denied.

The biggest debate of the night revolved around edible marijuana products and how they would affect children in the state.

Hickey said he’s afraid that manufacturers make edible products look too appealing to children when in the shape of candy or other sweets. Brezny argued that a bill already has been proposed for next year’s Legislature that will ensure edible products would be put in plain packaging that shouldn’t attract children’s attention.

Raybuck said he didn’t understand why the state is rushing ahead with recreational use when the first medical marijuana shop in the state opened up just last year, and Hickey said he would rather see the measure handled by the Legislature.

Giunchigliani disagreed that legalization should be in the hands of the state’s elected officials.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the public being able to weigh in and say, ‘This is something I believe in,’” Giunchigliani shot back.

But the sides didn’t disagree on every topic.

Both sides agreed that banking is a major issue for medical marijuana that would be exacerbated if recreational weed were to come to Nevada.

Brezny agreed with Hickey that tax revenue from marijuana sales would be minor at an estimated $60 million annually.

Both sides also want to Nevada to follow Colorado’s footsteps and allow individual counties and cities to have the power to opt out of the sale of marijuana if they decide they don’t want it.

The discussion aired on Vegas PBS at 7:30 p.m. Friday. A replay can be viewed at www.vegaspbs.org.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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