Nevada Pot Legalization; Las Vegas Democrat Joe Hagan Sparks Debate With New Bill

By iScienceTimes Staff on March 15, 2013 10:11 AM EDT

Marijuana
Is Nevada pot legalization coming soon? (Photo: Reuters)

Is Nevada pot legalization on the horizon? It very well could be if Las Vegas Assemblyman Joe Hogan gets his way. Hogan is introducing a bill in the state legislature that could make Nevada pot legalization a reality. Hogan told reporters that his motives behind the bill for Nevada pot legalization are about embracing the medical benefits of the drug as well as reducing the burden on law enforcement officials forced to make petty arrests.

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"We've wasted a tremendous amount of money spoiling teenagers lives, chasing them around until we can arrest them for something," Hogan told reporters. "And marijuana is not just a harmless plant. The medical benefits are remarkable."

If the Nevada pot legalization measure passes, it would make Nevada one of only a few states to decriminalize the drug. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) current law in Nevada punishes offenders for possessing any amount of marijuana. Possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $600 or mandatory assessment for addiction for the first offense. A second offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 or mandatory treatment. A third offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000. A fourth or subsequent offense is a category E felony punishable by a minimum of one year and maximum of four years imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000.

Although he is pushing for Nevada pot legalization, Hogan, a retired naval officer and Department of Defense employee, said he does not smoke pot.

"Maybe 45 years ago someone gifted me a few puffs, but I have not been a user at all," Hogan told the Las Vegas Sun.

The possibility for Nevada pot legalization will come as a relief to citizens who qualified for medical marijuana cards. Although Nevada passed laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana, the state lacks a dispensary system, which means that patients who need the drug for medical reasons have no legal means of obtaining it. Sen. Richard "Tick" Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has sponsored legislation to create a dispensary system in Nevada.

Segerblom said Thursday he is not cosponsoring Hogan's measure.

"I'm sticking to medical marijuana," he said.

Hogan said Assemblymen Andrew Martin and Paul Aizley are cosponsoring the measure. He's also hoping for some Republican support.

"I'm really hopeful" it will pass, Hogan said. "It would benefit a lot of people."

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