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State made mess of legalizing pot

How can a state that has so successfully handled legal gambling, legal 24/7 consumption of alcohol and legal prostitution have so fouled up legalizing marijuana?

Make no mistake. The handwriting is on the wall. Government drug warriors have lost the drug war. At least as far as marijuana is concerned. Legal, recreational marijuana is coming — like it or not, one way or the other.

Indeed, a petition to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana like alcohol will be on the ballot next November because the 2015 Nevada Legislature refused to deal with the issue. It's a long, complicated eight-page initiative.

Problem is, legalizing marijuana is very different from taxing and regulating marijuana. So the proposed initiative is a mess.

For example, there's a "special interest" clause that prohibits a marijuana grower from selling its crops directly to a product manufacturer or retailer. Instead, it may sell its crops "only to persons holding a wholesale dealer license pursuant to Chapter 369 of NRS."

Chapter 369 of NRS means … a liquor wholesaler.

Why in the world should a properly licensed marijuana grower have to sell his product through a liquor "middle man" who is not required to get a marijuana license like everyone else in the food chain?

If the voters themselves are to make the decision and bear the burden of legalizing marijuana, the proper and correct way to do so is through a simple constitutional amendment — absent special interest clauses like that ridiculous liquor wholesale provision.

Borrowing from similar amendments I found that have been floated in Florida and Ohio, a Nevada constitutional amendment might read something like this:

"All people in the state of Nevada of legal voting age and older shall have the right under state laws to possession, use and cultivation of cannabis. This right shall not be infringed except that the transfer of cannabis by purchase or sale may be regulated as necessary to ensure health and safety. 'Cannabis' in this section is defined as all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, whether growing or not, and the seeds thereof.

"Cultivators shall neither be permitted to sell their products directly to the public without a retail license, nor shall they be required to sell their products through a wholesaler.

"The provisions of this section are self-executing and severable, and, except where otherwise indicated in the text, shall supersede all conflicting state and local laws, charters and regulations or other provisions of this constitution. The Legislature may pass laws implementing and facilitating the provisions of this section that are not in conflict with its provisions."

If we're going to legalize marijuana — and I understand that many continue to object to such a move — but if we're going to do it, let's do it right.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.