Substance Abuse: 775-825-HELP

This post originally appeared in the Nevada Appeal on February 8, 2015 and was written by Guy W. Farmer.


The Medical Marijuana Express is headed straight for Carson City, and we’d better get ready for its arrival here later this year. That was the important message I heard at an under-publicized but fact-filled Medical Marijuana Seminar in Reno about 10 days ago.

The seminar, sponsored by the “Join Together Northern Nevada” (JTNN) organization, brought together an impressive array of scholars, public officials, law enforcement officers and social workers to discuss the costs and benefits of hundreds of “medical” pot shops that will open in the Silver State this year, including two in Carson City, one on Clear Creek Road and the other on Deer Run Road.

Attendees from Carson included Assemblyman “PK” O’Neill, Supervisors Karen Abowd and Lori Bagwell, Undersheriff Steve Albertsen, and Kathy Bartosz of Partnership Carson City, who got me into the seminar.

“Medical marijuana has created a perfect storm,” Ms. Bartosz told me, “because it’s easily attainable, it lowers the perception of risk and harm, and is available to children through edibles like brownies and cookies.”

She echoed Undersheriff Albertsen, who said medical marijuana “is a farce that will create more problems for local law enforcement.

“There have been two marijuana-related murders in Carson in recent months,” he added.

Two seminar speakers were from Colorado. Tom Gorman, president of Colorado’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, said there are more pot shops in Denver than McDonalds and Starbucks combined. “Forty-eight percent of people arrested in Denver test positive for marijuana,” Gorman said, and predicted that the costs of administering legal pot programs will eventually outrun the revenues that are generated.

“Beware the false narrative that marijuana is a harmless wonder drug,” said Bob Doyle, executive director of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance. “For every dollar that marijuana earns, it generates more than $10 worth of social, health, and legal and law enforcement costs. Medical marijuana is an expensive joke that’s all about the mass merchandising and commercialization of dangerous drugs.”

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Dooley urged Nevada not to fall into the same medical marijuana traps suffered by Southern California. Despite shutting down hundreds of pot shops — excuse me, “dispensaries” — hundreds more have opened and unethical doctors offer pot permits — not prescriptions because the AMA doesn’t recognize marijuana smoke as medicine — for as little as $80. It won’t be long before “Dr. Reefer,” who issues permits in Las Vegas, is going to open offices in Northern Nevada.

“It’s not about helping sick people, it’s about making lots of money – Happy Hour all day long,” Dooley concluded.

Pam Graber, spokesperson for Nevada’s Medical Marijuana Program, told us state law permits certified “patients” to possess 2.5 ounces of pot every two weeks, enough weed for 250 joints, which works out to 17 or 18 per day. That should cure what ails them. Of course they’ll want more as time goes on, and pot peddlers will request more licenses. Do you think local potheads will be satisfied with only two “dispensaries” in Carson? If so, dream on. “There is no such thing as medical marijuana because it lacks standards and quality control,” said Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “Physicians should be leading the fight against the legalization of marijuana and other addictive drugs.”

Two respected Carson City physicians who attended the seminar, Dr. Rex Baggett and Dr. Delmar Snider, agreed with Gitlow.

So get ready for high times in Carson City. Medical pot will be here before we know it. Personally, however, I hope the whole thing goes up in smoke.

Guy W. Farmer worked on anti-drug programs in seven countries during his diplomatic career.