Is it Really “Smart” to Legalize Marijuana in Nevada?

“…legal weed [marijuana] contributes to us

being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation

even less able to compete with the Chinese.”

–Tina Brown, former editor Vanity Fair 

Having just returned from Vietnam where I witnessed firsthand the incredible strides our former enemy has made in overtaking America’s educational status in the world; the warning by Englishwoman turned-American-by-choice, Ms. Brown, may indeed be an exhortation worth heeding. “…legal weed [marijuana] contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.”

It is true [and numerous studies show] that early marijuana use by adolescents is associated with lower educational attainment. Studies also show that regular pot use by teenagers results in higher high school drop-out rates (28% who do, 14% who don’t). Additional downer news for young stoner users–they do worse on college entrance exams and end up with lower IQ’s among adolescents.

In other words, the legalization of recreational marijuana slated for the Nov. 2016 ballot, may not be helping struggling Nevada students who are underperforming [not only against China and Vietnam] but most of the rest of these United States.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown, the head honcho of our cannabis-friendly neighbor to the west, has his doubts about the wisdom of legalizing a “weed” whose effect studies show is “to reduce the strength of expectations and goals which are socially reinforced.”

 “And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy,

how many people can get stoned and still have a great state and nation?

The world’s pretty dangerous, [Do you think?] very competitive.

I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day,

more than some potheads might be able to put together.”

 Gov. Jerry Brown

Correct, that was not “Jerry” Falwell, who uttered the last quote. California’s Chief Executive, who heads the world’s 8th largest economy is correct, if not politically so, to worry about security and the business climate of his state.

And so should Nevada.

Both Colorado and Washington State, who have recently legalized “recreational” pot use, are showing significant increases in “on-the-job marijuana use” that is well above the national average. The national average of job-site drug use is 5%. In Colorado, in the wake of legalization, it is 20%. In Washington State, it’s a whopping 23% who “wanna get high” before going to work.

In both states, employers, because of “workplace drug policies” [which are required for Worker’s Comp and insurance coverage] in the construction, manufacturing, and even the gaming industry, are finding it more difficult to hire employees who can pass drug tests. Colorado construction companies have had to “actively recruit workers from other states” because of the problems legalization of marijuana has created.

In spite of the thrill that recreational pot may deliver to its users should Nevadans decide to legalize another way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Vegas Strip–the more serious questions we should ask ourselves are:

Will legalized marijuana make for better neighbors? For better parents? For better students and schools [at a time that we desperately NEED both for a better future]? Will it make for better employees, for better security, etc., etc.?

These are questions that Tina Brown of The New Yorker pondered.

We need not be “fatter, dumber or sleepier” than our competitors. We should not however, institute anything that will make us less competitive with our rivals in the world–and certainly not something, that will make us even less secure in an increasingly dangerous world, as Gov. Brown contemplated.

Much more to say about a myriad of related issues. For now…your thoughts and responses are always welcome.

Happy Thanksgiving…Assemblyman Pat Hickey