VETTE’S VEGAS VOICE: Ballot initiative raises more than two questions
BY YVETTE WILLIAMS
Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 8 to make many important decisions about Nevada’s future. One of them weighs heavily on African-Americans, whose communities have experienced a disproportionate rate of incarceration for nonviolent crimes related to marijuana.
The Nevada Ballot Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana (Question 2) proposes to amend the Nevada Revised Statutes, requiring the Department of Taxation to “regulate and administer the operation of facilities that cultivate, produce, and dispense marijuana products in the state.” To read the entire initiative, go to www.CCBlackCaucus.com.
The Preamble in the 2014 initiative best describes the proposed new legislation that will go before the 2017 Nevada Legislature and be passed into law should voters support the initiative in November:
“In the interest of the public health and public safety, and in order to better focus state and local law enforcement resources on crimes involving violence and personal property, the People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other legal businesses.
The People of the State of Nevada declare that the cultivation and sale of marijuana should be taken from the domain of criminals and be regulated under a controlled system, where businesses will be taxed and the revenue will be dedicated to public education and to the enforcement of the regulations in this act.”
This initiative requires the Department of Taxation to collect a 15% excise tax. This revenue must be deposited in the State Distributive School Account, after costs incurred by the department, counties, cities, and towns to carry out the provisions of the initiative.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) Nevada’s website projects nearly $400 million in sales in 2018 and an average of $1.1 billion in total economic activity between 2018 and 2024. The report, prepared by Las Vegas-based RCG Economics in conjunction with the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), “provides detailed sales, tax, employment, and total economic activity projections for Nevada from a regulated, adult-use marijuana industry. The figures included in the report do not include sales, taxes, employment, and economic activity related to medical marijuana.”
This new industry has tremendous growth potential considering the number of tourists who visit Nevada each year. Given the negative impact that marijuana criminalization has had on African-Americans and other communities of color — and the irony of thousands still living with the challenges of being ex-offenders, while business interests capitalize off that same activity — many in the community I’ve spoken to about Question 2 find this turn of events offensive. That brings me to the following questions: