Recent polls indicate that 47 percent of voters are in support of the November 8th ballot that would legalize recreational marijuana across the state of Nevada. By voting “Yes” on Question 2, Nevada residents would be authorizing individuals 21 years of age or older to “possess, consume and cultivate” up to an ounce of marijuana. The amendment would also allow businesses to sell and cultivate the drug in shops and manufacturing facilities in Las Vegas and other towns and cities across the state. Although there are some clear benefits to the drug’s legalization (such as an increase in government revenue), there are several clear negatives as well. As has recently been demonstrated in Colorado, marijuana legalization can come with some unexpected consequences. Here are three reasons why we’re encouraging Nevada residents to examine all of the facts about this monumental ballot before heading to the polls.
1. Marijuana use has long-term negative effects on the brain
The stereotype of the slow and spacey pothead may not be far from the truth, according to a study conducted by Northwestern University. Researchers there found a correlation between marijuana use and poor memory. Their study also revealed that people who become chronic marijuana abusers at a young age were particularly at risk for developing brain damage that mirrored that of schizophrenia. Speaking against marijuana legalization, the American Medical Association has stated:
“Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders.”
The concern is that legalization would make it even easier for children and teenagers to gain access to the drug. Nevada already struggles to keep students in school (Nevada has one of the worst graduation rates in the country). Add a drug that’s notorious for sapping motivation and focus, and the problem has the potential to worsen.
2. Problems with drugged driving and homelessness
One of the biggest pro-marijuana arguments in Colorado was that legalizing it would free up law enforcement’s time to focus on bigger concerns. As reports show, however, that hasn’t quite worked according to plan. Law enforcement has struggled with the issue of how to curb DWIs, as there is no clear way to determine if a person is driving under the influence. Unlike alcohol, there isn’t a marijuana breathalyzer test an officer can utilize if he suspects a driver to be under the influence. And unlike open containers, there’s no way to tell if the cookies laying on the dashboard contain THC. Another issue that has developed in Denver since the change in law has been the rise in homelessness. Homeless men and women from across the US have migrated to Colorado in order to use without the fear of arrest. Although there is no official government record, an informal survey found that legal marijuana was responsible for 30 percent of Colorado’s recent homeless migrants. If marijuana is legalized, it could become a source of added stress to the already strained metro police force. As it is, Nevada ranks number two in the nation for the most overworked police officers, according to FBI and census data.
3. The danger of children accidentally ingesting edibles
Colorado has seen a rise in the number of children arriving at the Emergency Room after accidentally eating a product infused with THC (like a brownie or gummy bear, for instance). While most of the reported side effects have been minor (drowsiness and confusion, for example), there have been reported cases of seizures and comas. ER visits in Colorado have increased for adults as well; the rate doubling for adults visiting from out of state. While many of the cases involve inexperienced users who smoke or ingest too much and then panic, some have involved marijuana-related car accidents and marijuana-induced psychosis brought on by mixing the drug with an underlying mental disorder, such as schizophrenia or anxiety. While it is not possible to fatally overdose on marijuana, the drug can cause the heart to race, which means it can be fatal to those with a heart condition. Nevada already ranks the fourth highest for drug overdose deaths and hospitals in Las Vegas presently see a higher-than-average number of intoxication-related injuries. The last thing any hospital needs is an increased demand of emergency services, but that could happen if Nevadans vote to legalize recreational marijuana.