Nevada’s legalization initiative was the first to officially qualify for the 2016 ballot, and Nevada is a key state in the Marijuana Policy Project’s adult-use push during this presidential election cycle.
States like Colorado have a straight-forward ballot process that can be undertaken in a single calendar year. But in order for Nevada residents to have a chance to approve retail cannabis sales this year, MPP had to start back in 2014, gathering the required 101,666 valid signatures from voters; in the end, the campaign submitted more than 200,000.
Instead of heading directly to the Secretary of State for final approval, Nevada election laws required the initiative to go before the state legislature in 2015. Lawmakers had the chance to pass the bill under this scheme, but when they failed to take action, the measure was then certified for the ballot.
Under Question 2, adults aged 21 and up would be able to possess up to one ounce of flowers and 3.5 grams of hash oil or other concentrates. Home cultivation of up to six plants would be allowed, but only if a resident lives more than 25 miles away from a retail store. However, making extracts at home would result in some harsh fines. Taxes would be set at a 15% excise between cultivators and the retail stores, plus the state’s sales tax, which ranges from 6.85% to 8.1% on retail items.
A major factor in the race has been ultra-wealthy prohibitionist Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada’s largest newspaper, last December for $140 million. In 2014, the newspaper’s editorial board opined in favor of legalization. Apparently bowing to the pressure of the new owner, the Review-Journal has now reversed its position.
MPP and the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada are planning to spend more than $800,000 on local advertising in the final months of the campaign. At press time, a poll released by Suffolk University showed 48% of Nevada voters approve of Question 2, while 43% oppose it.
If there is a strong turnout on Election Day, the measure will likely pass. “The more young people who vote,” says MPP’s Steve Fox, “the better we’ll do.”
— Chris Goldstein
This is part of Freedom Leaf’s 2016 State-By-State Ballot Initiative Guide.