This article by Guy W. Farmer appeared in the Nevada Appeal on January 17th.
Sheriff Ken Furlong blamed a marijuana deal gone bad for a murder that occurred here last Monday morning. And that got me thinking about the “medical” pot shop that will open in Carson City later this year. It was going to open last year, but that didn’t happen.
In a recent Appeal column, Jim Clark pointed out since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, “no state credit union is going to open an account” for a pot dealer, and that’s true for states that have already legalized recreational marijuana, like Colorado and Washington.
Clark, a Republican activist (although pot isn’t a partisan political issue), wrote some Nevadans “are proposing a state-chartered credit union . . . to get around the (cash) problem.” But because a state credit union couldn’t participate in the federal reserve system, “it would need an armored car instead of using electronic funds transfers” any time it wanted to transfer cash. That sounds like fun.
Clark also noted President Obama’s Justice Department has issued “guidance” to state and local law enforcement agencies stating the Feds would “defer prosecution” of marijuana cases in states where weed is deemed legal. But what happens if the next president is someone like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor who has vowed to enforce all federal laws — including drug and immigration laws — if he wins the presidency?
But wait, there’s more to the “medical” marijuana issue. As you know, I don’t think marijuana smoke is medicine because if it was, it would be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by licensed pharmacies. Clark was wrong to refer to pot “prescriptions.” Instead of a prescription, a licensed physician — perhaps someone like Dr. Reefer, who operates in Las Vegas — will charge you $100 or more to write a permission slip so you can purchase medical pot. That’s how it works.
The Sacramento Bee recently covered the annual Marijuana Olympics — aka the Emerald Cup — at the Sonoma (Calif.) County Fairgrounds. Reporter Erika Smith wrote “thousands of weed aficionados were on their feet, cheering, as a thick curl of pungent blunt smoke wafted by . . .” A little something for the kids.
The California Legislature last year passed strict laws to regulate marijuana growers, as did the Nevada Legislature. As a result, formerly clandestine growers will now face a highly structured process to become legitimate, and will have to maintain growing records and pay all applicable taxes, as will Nevada pot growers.
Meanwhile, states like Colorado and Washington that are already deep into the marijuana business have discovered pot growing isn’t green. As Bloomberg News reported last month, “The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries. . . . Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire.”
And it isn’t just greenhouse gas emissions. CNBC recently reported in California, “Thirsty (marijuana) plants are sucking up a priceless resource: water. . . . If no action is taken in the drought-wracked state, the consequences for fisheries and wildlife will be dire.” CNBC said the average marijuana plant requires about six gallons of water a day to survive and thrive.
So how do our local police feel about medical pot shops? Well, as Carson Undersheriff Steve Albertsen told me last year, “Medical marijuana is a farce that will create more problems for local law enforcement.” Enough said.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.