CRCM Makes Final Court Bid to Get Marijuana Regulation Initiative on Nevada Ballot 9/10/04

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When the Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org) and its Nevada affiliate, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana (http://www.regulatemarijuana.org) saw the state government reject their bid to qualify an initiative to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession and create a legal, regulated market for marijuana in Nevada, they sued the state and won, forcing it to throw out part of its initiative laws and do a recount of the groups' signatures. When state officials finished their recount and still found the initiative some 2,000 signatures short, MPP and CRCM sued again. In a Tuesday ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, they lost. Now, in a last-ditch effort to make the November ballot, MPP told DRCNet Thursday it will attempt to appeal that ruling to the full 9th Circuit.

"It's not over yet," vowed MPP communications director Bruce Mirken. "We have decided after conferring with our lawyers that we will ask the 9th Circuit for an en banc hearing. If 13 of the justices agree that the ruling seems in error, we get a hearing before a panel of 11. We will file within the next day or so. We don't really know how fast we will be heard, but at this point it is in everybody's interest to have a decision as soon as possible. We are waiting to hear from the court," he told DRCNet.

This is the last chance for the initiative this year. According to Steve George, public information officer for Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller, who oversees elections in the state, ballots will be printed next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday. "They should have been printed this week, but they haven't been because of the court actions and attendant delays," George told DRCNet. "The time frame is very short because we have early voting and absentee voting and we have to get those ballots sent out."

When asked what would happen if the 9th Circuit came back with a ruling favorable to MPP and CRCM, George was uncertain. "I'm not sure," he said. "It hasn't happened before. That is something we will be arguing with the courts -- that any delay would interfere with our ability to get the information and ballots out before early and absentee voting takes place."

But MPP's Mirken said MPP would cross that bridge when it came to it. "The state may well go ahead and print up the ballots without the initiative," he said. "We will deal with it as necessary if the court rules in our favor."

According to the CRCM web site, the Nevada initiative would:

  • eliminate the threat of arrest and jail for adults aged 21 and older who responsibly use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana (which is the equivalent of one-and-a-half packs of cigarettes);
  • direct the state legislature to regulate the manufacture, taxation, and sale of marijuana, whereby establishments that are licensed to sell tobacco will also be permitted to sell marijuana, provided that they neither sell alcohol nor are within 500 yards of a school or place of worship;
  • earmark marijuana-related tax revenues to alcohol and drug treatment and education;
  • maintain penalties for underage marijuana use, smoking marijuana in public, using or possessing marijuana on school grounds or in prisons, and transporting marijuana across state lines;
  • increase penalties for providing marijuana to minors, as well as for motorists who kill someone while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance; and
  • take effect on December 5, 2006, if a majority of Nevada voters pass the initiative in November 2004 and again in November 2006. (December 5, 1933, is the date that the US repealed alcohol prohibition nationally.)
With the exception of an initiative already on the November ballot in Alaska that would allow for the use, possession, and commerce in marijuana for adults, MPP's and CRCM's Nevada initiative is the only initiative effort this year to really push the envelope on marijuana law reform. While other initiatives have made or are still struggling to make state and local ballots this year, they deal either with medical marijuana, lowering penalties for marijuana possession, or directing police to make marijuana law enforcement their lowest priority.

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Issue #353, 9/10/04 They're Back! Two DEA Raids on California Medical Marijuana Operations in Two Weeks | Push for Medical Marijuana Legislation Underway in New Jersey | CRCM Makes Final Court Bid to Get Marijuana Regulation Initiative on Nevada Ballot | DRCNet Book Review: "My Cocaine Museum," by Michael Taussig (2004, University of Chicago Press, 360 pp., $22.50 HB) | Action Alert: Judiciary Committee Taking Up HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Pittsburgh Gives Preliminary Okay to Continuing Needle Exchange Program | Newsbrief: German Drug Deaths Down, Government Cites Harm Reduction Policies | Newsbrief: Initiative Fails to Make Ballot in Arkansas, Another Gets Kicked Off Ballot in Tallahassee | Newsbrief: MPP Sues Minneapolis over Medical Marijuana Ballot Access | Newsbrief: Denver Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Canada's National Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: US and Philippines in Joint "Narcoterrorism" Exercises | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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