4.15.2013

Legalization of Marijuana – The Latest Debate in Nevada

Written by: The Law Offices of Garrett T. Ogata

The Legalization of Marijuana Debate in Nevada

How the legalization of marijuana in Nevada could turn the state’s economy around

Nevada faces a potentially substantial paradigm shift as legislators, lobbyists, and officials consider whether there should be a legalization of marijuana. This legalization of cannabis would bring in an approximate $1.5 billion in annual tax revenue, a figure which does not include the anticipated increase in tourism and service industry revenue that would both occur as a direct result of the legalization of marijuana. Aside from arguments relating to ethics, moral principles, and personal freedoms, the primary impetus for the legalization of marijuana in Nevada is fiscal.

As a city that has been affected deeply and at length by the crash of the housing market and the overall downturn in the American economy, the legalization of marijuana in Nevada would substantially impact the economy of Las Vegas.  Marijuana in Las Vegas would greatly impact the city’s economy by providing revenue and a means of statewide employment for a state that arguably needs a source of employment beyond gaming.

Nevada’s medical marijuana laws currently allow for the possession of no more than one ounce of medical marijuana, but do not allow for legal marijuana dispensaries.  The legislation is currently considering total legalization of cannabis, making it legal to possess and use legally purchased marijuana without medical requirements.

Legalization of marijuana could heal the Nevada economy

The $1.5 billion estimate was given by Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, who argues in favor of the legalization of marijuana based upon its inevitable benefit to the Nevada economy. An economic boost would certainly be much needed by Nevada since the state has been hit very heavily by the economic crash of the last several years. With seemingly endless layoffs, reduced wages for professionals, and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, it seems as though the legalization of marijuana in Nevada and all of the revenue attached to that legalization of cannabis would be a major step toward pulling Nevada out of the deep red and returning to its former glory.

The proceeds from the legalization of marijuana in Nevada and tax revenue of future sales of marijuana would go toward education according to Andrew Martin. Martin sees education as being an extremely underfunded and a long-ignored problem in Nevada. The potential revenue generated by legalization of marijuana would provide desperately needed fiscal relief for K-12 schools in Nevada and possibly even to universities and community colleges.

The committee that met last Friday to discuss the legalization of marijuana in Nevada took no action in the end, and so the debate carries on; but it is certainly telling that the zeitgeist of the 21st century allows for such a debate to even take place, and that is something, if not progress. The legalization of marijuana could provide much needed revenue for the state of Nevada and create a substantial number of jobs. In the end, the issue of the legalization of marijuana comes down to an issue of economics. The morality of the legalization of marijuana has proven to be somewhat of a mute point, with opinions on the moral elements of the debate being very evenly divided and not particularly productive. What can be concluded is that this discussion of the legalization of marijuana could change Nevada’s poor economic luck and restore the state’s fiscal strength.

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