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Cost of the drug war is too high

The Review-Journal’s Wednesday editorial, “A bad bet,” is reminiscent of Reefer Madness type propaganda. The half truths in the editorial are frankly insulting.

Contrary to what was expressed in the editorial, marijuana is not a gateway drug — and this has been disproved repeatedly. Likewise, marijuana does not cause cancer, mental illness, birth defects or irreversible brain damage, as was opined. Additionally, marijuana is not physically addictive and there has been no documented overdose death from its use.

While it is true there is a possible link to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in heavy users, this has been found in people who smoke tobacco and marijuana together, so the data is not clear on those who smoke only marijuana.

As to the half truth that the savings to the taxpayer will be negligible, consider that even if there are “only” 90 state prisoners who would be freed, that would save $30,000 per year per prisoner (the cost to incarcerate one prisoner per year in Nevada). That’s $2.7 million per year.

What was not said in the opinion is the cost of police enforcement, prosecution and court time to go after the people arrested for personal use. This is a massive waste of time and resources. The tax benefits that the editorial seems to gloss over are likewise not negligible. Tax revenue projections here are in the $80 million to $100 million per year range due to our tourist-based economy. How this can be ignored is beyond me.

As a criminal defense attorney in Nevada I make money from the current marijuana laws. However, the cost — financial and to our civil liberties — of marijuana’s illegal status and the potential revenue from legalizing recreational marijuana are not something we can look at with a narrow, outdated view that we know does not work.

We are losing our civil liberties because of the drug war and we cannot afford to prosecute adults as part of marijuana prohibition. We need to vote to legalize recreational marijuana.

Christopher Tilman

Las Vegas

Defensive driving

Being a retired driving safety instructor, it strikes me as odd that so many drivers here in Las Vegas have forgotten basic defensive driving techniques. The recent accidents in which people were killed and seriously hurt while simply driving through a green light were tragic, but likely preventable.

Drivers need to remember when their instructors told them to never be the first one in the intersection. They need to recall the advice about looking left, right and left again before entering an intersection, especially one with a high speed limit.

So many drivers run red lights here and there are simply not enough Metro officers to hand out tickets.

Every day while driving in town I see at least three or more drivers run the red. Have you ever heard of one receiving a ticket? I haven’t.

A green light does not mean go. It means, proceed when safe to do so. Had the drivers involved in recent fatal accidents simply looked both ways before entering the intersection, there is a good chance they would be here today.

Please, people. Take a refresher course in defensive driving. If you haven’t had a ticket in 40 years or you were just not trained properly, you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to stay alive on our very dangerous streets. Stay off the phone and pay attention to your driving.

Tom Davey

Las Vegas

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