The Austin Chronicle

Drug War Czar Stumping in the Silver State

By Jordan Smith, November 2, 2006, 9:06am, Newsdesk

With the election just days away, the debate in Nevada over one ballot initiative, Question 7 – a measure that would legalize and tax-and-regulate the use of marijuana by adults over 21 – is getting more and more heated. Indeed, the folks backing Q7, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana have filed at least one lawsuit, against a host of Nevada public officials, asking the court to restrain them from using their public office – and thus, taxpayer funds – to stump against the measure, in violation of the state’s Ethics in Government Law. Among those named in the suit is Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. Lt. Stan Olsen who is part of the anti-Q7 group called – I kid you not – the Committee to Keep Nevada Respectable. Not only has Olsen signed off on the CKNR campaign finance reports, but the Committee’s official address is listed as – you guessed it – LVMPD headquarters, a circumstance CRCM argues is a clear violation of the ethics law.

Of course, the local officials have a clear walk-a-swerving-ethical-line mentor in federal drug czar John Walters, head of the White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy, who has traveled to the Silver State to stump against Q7. While in Las Vegas, Walters stopped by the local NBC affiliate for a segment on the morning show where he not only admitted that he would be delivering federal taxpayer money to fund Q7 opponents – quite possibly a violation of the federal Hatch Act, which governs the political activities of government officials – but where he also took some time to muddy the Q7 debate with a little anti-pot rhetoric, made up of lies so bold they would even embarrass Pinocchio. Q7 is nothing more than a “Dealer Protection Act” that would allow drug dealers to cavort around town with 60-80 joints without fear of being arrested, he said. Indeed, Walters told the seemingly sympathetic morning anchor, if Nevadans “want more kids bringing guns to school” then they should feel free to vote for Q7, since kids having access to guns and then bringing them to school somehow “correlates with marijuana use.”
Now, we’re not real sure what Walters is smoking, but we’re pretty sure we don’t want any. Q7 would legalize pot use and possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults over 21, and would create a strict tax-and-regulate scheme for pot distribution at state-run stores. The law would also strengthen penalties for anyone providing marijuana to juveniles and for driving while under the influence of pot. Additionally, the ballot language calls for a portion of state revenue derived from pot sales to be earmarked for rehab programs. In all, if any form of marijuana legalization is in store, it seems likely that a law like Q7 would be the way to go. That is, of course, unless you’re a federally funded czar.

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