Monthly Archive: June 2016

Two Smart Steps Forward One Stupid Step Back…

 

That is, if Question 2 (the commercial marijuana initiative) is approved by Nevada voters in November.

Why would it be a “stupid step backwards” for Nevada to legalize something that’s going to make certain persons a lot of money? After all, Nevada is the state investigative journalists’ Sally Denton and Roger Morris observed in “The Money and the Power” writing, “Beginning as a remote oasis of legal vice, a criminal city-state grew as a colony, then clearinghouse, then international center of a persuasive swelling American corruption.”

To be fair, the two award-winning reporters were referring to the Strip’s original regime of organized crime–and not the “outwardly legitimate corporate oligarchy” that is the Vegas we all know and love, today.

Still, the term oligarchy (“a business interest controlled by a small group of people”) applies to the mostly out-of-state special interests who are responsible and largely paid for the pot legalization question on this November’s ballot.

As Genoa attorney Jim Hartman recently said, “The initiative is a ‘business plan’ crafted by and for large marijuana industry donors.” Hartman goes on to point out that Question 2 isn’t some “Nevada-based libertarian effort to ‘decriminalize’ or ‘legalize’ marijuana.” Instead, passage (of Question 2) will give monopoly powers to existing medical marijuana retailers and liquor wholesalers, while at the same time criminalizing regular Nevada citizens growing marijuana within 25 miles of the proponents’ pot shops. In other words–it’s Big Marijuana vs. the little Nevadan.

Is it fair to question “who” are the real marijuana investors hiding behind corporate veils, while investing the old kind of “green” that bankrolled parts of Nevada’s notorious past?

Reporter Dennis Myers of the Reno News & Review, recently enquired about the numerous shadowy types who take advantage of Nevada’s “easy on business incorporation laws,” in his article, “Nevada Aids and Abets: The ‘Delaware of the West’ in the Panama Papers.” Myers attempted to delve into the thousand or so Nevada shell companies in the now infamous scandal. And while no current evidence points to any of the money behind Nevada’s new class of “potreprenurial” investors being “dirty,” the point is–we simply don’t know where much of the money is coming from that is financing the new marijuana industry in Nevada.

Recently fired Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John L. Smith, is no stranger to questioning where Nevada’s so-called “vice” money comes from. Smith said recently, “It shouldn’t be surprising if nefarious characters or the family of corrupt politicians are found to have been hiding behind shell corporations in Nevada.” After all, as the longtime Nevada observer said: “It’s what we do.”

It may be what certain Nevada denizens have done in the past. The question before voters this November–is whether or not future Nevadans want to continue doing business modeled on the past?

What I said earlier about “one [stupid] step backwards,” is this: Why should the “New Nevada” many of us envision–have to resort to an “old” reliance on the tourist industry in and around the state’s casino corridors? Why create another industry predicated on people’s predilection to pleasure, in order to bankroll our schools?

Nevada’s done well as of late attracting high tech manufacturing companies and innovative digital businesses to the state. It would seem that the notion of socially responsible investing would steer us away from the continued dependence on enterprises that feed off the consumption of habits that rank high in socially and financially-draining practices.

I also referred to “two [smart] steps forward.” They’ve been: The greater commitment (both reform and revenue-wise) to better educational achievements. Nevada’s “new” economy needs brighter and more accomplished students who are college and career ready. Nowhere in decades of national research–is it shown that a greater prevalence of “pot” in society–is going to contribute to smarter and better-prepared graduates. Quite the opposite in fact, is true.

The second step forward–ushered in by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s emphasis on building a better-educated “workforce,” has been to create a new and different “workplace” for 21st century entrepreneurs. Companies like Apple, Tesla, Faraday Futures, etc., are a testament to a new business model, not reliant upon tourism.

I know proponents of Question 2, like Sen. Tick Segerblom, want to make Nevada into a so-called “Amsterdam of the West.” Nevadans however, would be wise to chart our own course and not pattern ourselves after a European social model.

No need either, to remake our economy in the image of our own 20th century past. Let’s build a new Nevada in the image of a sustainable future built on people’s strengths, not weaknesses. Tourists from around the world will still come and marvel at what we’ve accomplished.

In the interest of our future, Nevadans of all political persuasions–should Vote No on Question 2.

By way of disclosure, I serve as Co-Chair for Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy, which is opposing Question 2 on the November ballot.