These are the front runners in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Nevada governor.
*Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect additional context regarding Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s school safety summit and his position on enacting work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Nevada.
Nevada’s upcoming governor’s election is shaping up to be historic.
Longtime Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak are both seen as real possibilities to become the state’s first Democratic governor in three decades. Giunchigliani, if elected, would also be the state’s first female governor.
The favorites on the Republican side, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz, present primary voters with a chance to send the first state treasurer, or second Laxalt, to the governor’s mansion.
Only two of the four front-runners vying to replace outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval can survive a primary election scheduled for June 12. Early voting starts May 26.
With a month to go before voters can cast a ballot, here’s where the top candidates stand on the state’s marquee issues.
Take our quiz: Which governor candidate are you most like based on the issues?
Fraught discussions over gun control policies only became more rancorous in the months since gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire into a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Oct. 1 shooting left 58 people dead and 851 others wounded. It also generated countless scores of new inquiries about Question 1 — a long-stalled statewide expansion of gun background checks first approved by voters in 2016.
Laxalt said there’s nothing he can do to legally enforce the initiative if elected to the state’s highest office, citing the FBI’s refusal to carry out additional checks specified under the initiative.
He has said he would consider legislation banning bump stocks — a modification Paddock used that allows a semiautomatic weapons to fire faster.
Laxalt went on to say he believes the controversial gun add-ons will be regulated at the federal level, “which should adequately resolve this issue.”
In March, he told the RGJ he’d like to see more cops in Nevada schools after a school safety summit he staged with Nevada police. Ideas discussed during that summit included training for active shooters, school security, how police can better share information and how to better predict threats to schools.
After school safety summit, Laxalt did not volunteer further details on the recommendation to put more cops in schools and declined to say when his office planned to release a school safety report.
Schwartz told the Reno Gazette Journal he would seek to enforce the gun background check initiative. As did Giunchigliani and Sisolak.
Schwartz favors funding for arming and training school resource officers to patrol the schools. He does not support allowing Nevada cities and counties to ban bump stocks, saying, “We cannot live in a state where something goes from legal to illegal when you cross Charleston (Boulevard) into North Las Vegas.”
Both Giunchigliani and Sisolak have backed a ban on bump stocks, assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Neither supports arming teachers.
Laxalt said he’d be willing to consider changes to the state’s decades-old school funding formula.
His eight-point education platform made no mention of proposed tweaks to the oft-criticized method for divvying up school funding, one both Sisolak and Giunchigliani have pledged to revise.
Schwartz did not rule out making such changes but prioritized them behind an effort to repeal the state’s commerce tax, a key part of Sandoval’s sweeping, multimillion-dollar 2015 education reforms.
He plans to replace the lost revenue — expected to be about $380 million over the next two fiscal years — by pulling some $750 million in public subsidies away from the Las Vegas Raiders’ future stadium.
Laxalt, too, wants to do away with the Sandoval-backed commerce tax, but said he would rely on marijuana taxes and government cost-cutting to make up the school funding gap.
Both Republicans are outspoken proponents of expanding the state’s besieged education savings account program, which lets parents tap into state funds to send their kids to private schools.
Sisolak, a former member of the Nevada Board of Regents, and Giunchigliani, a former special education teacher, would prefer to see those dollars stay in public schools.
Giunchigliani said private schools shouldn’t get any public funding and promised to preserve the commerce tax. She also bemoaned Sisolak’s support for using hotel room tax revenues to help fund the Raiders stadium — dollars she said should have gone to education.
Sisolak pointed to funds from a 2009 room tax and recreational marijuana revenues as possibly under-tapped sources of school funding. He, too, would like to keep the commerce tax.
Sisolak and Giunchigliani have major differences when it comes to the Oakland Raiders’ controversial move to Las Vegas.
Sisolak, a committed backer of the $2 billion taxpayer-subsidized stadium that finally lured the team to Sin City, testified in support of the project in front of the state Legislature.
He reaffirmed that commitment early this month, joining five other Clark County commissioners to OK a nine-figure public subsidy for the 65,000-seat stadium near the Las Vegas Strip.
Giunchigliani, who cast the lone vote against thefunding package, has long opposed putting taxpayer dollars toward the project — a move she sees as little more than a giveaway to wealthy NFL owners.
Schwartz has similarly strong feelings about the undertaking. He has threatened, if elected, to shut down roads surrounding the stadium in a bid to force Raiders’ owners back to the bargaining table.
Laxalt, who counts casino mogul and former stadium financier Sheldon Adelson among his top campaign donors, hasn’t taken a public position for or against the stadium.
He did not directly answer a question about whether Nevada had doled out too many economic development incentives in recent years, such as a famed $1.3 billion package of tax breaks for Tesla’s behemoth Gigafactory in Storey County.
Laxalt did say he favored a more free-market approach to bringing business to the state, one “where government doesn’t get involved in picking the winners and losers.”
Giunchigliani fears Nevada may be doing too much to help large corporations, such as Tesla, but not enough to support mom-and-pop local businesses. Sisolak applauded Sandoval’s efforts to diversify the state’s economy, but said there are “multiple ways to go about that.”
Nevada’s next governor will take over a state faced with skyrocketing rents and a rapidly rising homeless population fed by a growing shortage of low-income housing units.
But none of the front-runners for the state’s top job have offered a comprehensive platform of policies to address those issues.
Giunchigliani, in a November interview with the RGJ, counted inclusionary zoning — which would require developers to add a certain percentage of rent-restricted units to new market-rate housing projects — among the policy prescriptions she would consider. She was the only one of the four front-runners to say, unequivocally, that Nevada should spend more of its own money to address affordable housing.
In addition to inclusionary zoning, Sisolak said he would look into density bonuses that let builders develop more units in exchange for adding affordable housing to projects. He said the state needs to make it easier for developers to more quickly build houses by streamlining the construction permitting and approval process.
Schwartz suggested easing developers’ burden by bringing more skilled contractors to Nevada and expanding the state’s existing affordable housing bond program.
Laxalt said he was open to exploring ways to make it easier for developers to build new housing, but didn’t say which specific proposals he favored.
None of the top four governor hopefuls have said they would roll back Medicaid coverage first extended to more than 200,000 of Nevada’s poorest residents in 2012.
Sisolak and Giunchigliani said they would look to further expand that coverage, if possible, by supporting a Medicaid buy-in bill similar to the one vetoed by Sandoval last year.
Laxalt has said he would consider imposing work requirements on Medicaid recipients, as Kentucky’s Republican Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced he would do in his state.
Asked if he would impose similar restrictions on Medicaid and other forms of social welfare, Schwartz said only that the state should ensure food stamps are not fraudulently obtained.
Schwartz also said that state and federal dollars should not be used to fund abortions except in cases where rape, incest or another type of crime has been committed.
Laxalt did not directly answer a question about funding for Planned Parenthood, saying only that it was an issue for federal representatives to address.
Laxalt also did not directly respond to a question about whether abortions should always be legally available, explaining that was an “extremist phrasing of the issue.” He said he was against both partial-birth and late-term abortions.
Sisolak in January said reproductive health decisions should be left between a woman and her doctor, though he’s said in the past he was undecided on the question of whether government funding should be provided to medical facilities that provide abortions.
Sisolak told the RGJ he would not “legislate against a woman’s right to choose” and said Planned Parenthood should continue to receive funding.
Giunchigliani is pro-choice and a member of Planned Parenthood. She supports continued funding for the abortion rights group.
Both top Democratic governor hopefuls helped spearhead efforts to research and regulate the statewide use of marijuana.
Sisolak pledged to protect Nevada’s voter-approved decriminalization of the drug against threats from the federal government. Giunchigliani went a step further, telling the RGJ marijuana should be decriminalized nationwide. She also pledged, if elected, to commute the sentences of non-violent individuals in jail for possession of marijuana.
Schwartz agreed pot should be legalized at the federal level.
Laxalt opposed Nevada voters’ decision to approve recreational pot use in 2016 and did not directly answer a question about whether it should be legal at the federal level.
Laxalt in 2015 signed on to a lawsuit opposing then-President Barack Obama’s executive order to expand the now-defunct Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which delayed the deportation of individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
He also joined a suit that sought to punish self-declared “sanctuary cities” — municipalities where officials have said they will not help federal authorities enforce immigration laws.
No such cities exist in the state, but that hasn’t stopped lieutenant governor candidate and state Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, from pursuing a constitutional amendment that would make local sanctuary declarations illegal.
Laxalt did not directly answer a question about whether he supported that effort. He has been a vocal opponent of allowing sanctuary cities in Nevada and said he would vigorously oppose sanctuary declarations if elected governor.
Schwartz has dismissed the topic as dog whistling. Audio obtained by the RGJ shows he told a Hispanics in Politics audience in April that sanctuary cities were not an issue in the state and that the phrase was being used as a “code word for something else.”
Schwartz said the state should not coddle criminals who have crossed the border. He supports an “all-of-the-above” border strategy, up to and including one that features Trump’s much-discussed border wall, as well as a path to citizenship for some immigrants in exchange for military or community service.
Giunchigliani and Sisolak both support comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for those brought here illegally by their parents.
Schwartz and Laxalt also split on the ever-testy topic of Yucca Mountain.
Laxalt, a Trump supporter, has vowed to battle the president’s efforts to restart the licensing process at the long-stalled nuclear waste dump about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Schwartz favors a discussion on the topic “rather than just saying ‘no.’”
He, like Laxalt, wants to see the federal government cede some of its control over the roughly 50 million acres it oversees in Nevada.
Giunchigliani and Sisolak oppose using Yucca as a nuclear dump site.
They both balked at the prospect of the state taking over lands now owned by the federal government.
Laxalt, as attorney general, led the charge to put an end to the state’s backlog of sexual assault kits. He’s also been a vocal advocate for laws to combat sex trafficking and crack down on paroled sex offenders.
Laxalt said the state has measures in place to address workplace sexual misconduct and that he strongly supports those measures. He said he would carefully review current safeguards against misconduct among elected officials.
Such policies have moved to the political foreground since the start of the #MeToo movement, a social media-driven wave of support for thousands of victims who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations that rocked Hollywood, the media, politics
Schwartz did not specify what measures he thought should be taken to combat workplace sexual misconduct, but said the state should “certainly take the issue seriously and develop standards to safeguard all our citizens.”
Sisolak said more needs to be done to prevent confidentiality clauses in legal settlements from acting as a gag order against victims. He said elected officials should never be allowed to use taxpayer dollars to settle such claims.
Giunchigliani said Nevada should ban the use of non-disclosure agreements and expand a Clark County proposal she introduced for reporting harassment in government.
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LAS VEGAS, NV – The state of Nevada has already collected 83 percent of its projected tax revenue from marijuana for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Numbers continue to soar past projections in the first year of legalized adult-use cannabis in the state; never more so than in February – the most recent and lucrative of the first eight reported months.
According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, over $35 million in February recreational sales yielded $3.54 million from a 10 percent tax. Wholesale production across the state brought in an additional $2.4 million from a 15 percent tax. The $5.95 million in tax revenue reported by the state is the highest single-month total since recreational use became legal in Nevada in July, 1 2017.
Since that date, dispensaries have sold over $263 million of adult-use cannabis and Nevada has collected $41.88 million in tax revenue, putting the state on the doorstep of its $50.32 million projection with four months still left in the fiscal year.
Most of the marijuana sold for recreational use for the rest of the 2017-18 fiscal year will be a bonus for the state. Projections called for $26.48 million in tax revenue from a 10 percent tax on recreational sales. As of February, $26.37 million was collected.
“The Retail Marijuana Tax has come in significantly above projections each month, though we see some fluctuation from month to month in the dollar amount,” said Bill Anderson, Executive Director of the Nevada Department of Taxation.
All of the $26.37 million generated so far has been put into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, the department said.
The fiscal year called for $23.84 million in tax revenue from wholesale cultivation. As of February, $15.51 was collected.
“The trend we are seeing is that the Wholesale Marijuana Tax is tracking slightly above projections and is showing steady growth each month,” Anderson said.
The money collected from this tax first reimburses the Department of Taxation for operational costs, with $5 million allocated to reimburse local governments for their costs. The remainder will be put in the Distributive School Account.
In April, the state distributed $5 million in tax money to local governments . Each county government in Nevada received $88,235,29. Additionally, several Clark County municipalities received payments. According to documents, the city of Las Vegas received $826,438.72, Henderson received $392,585.42, North Las Vegas received $317,687.01, and Mesquite received $27,204.69
“The overall revenue picture is strong and, if it continues the path it is currently on, we can expect to see end-of-year revenue totals that substantially exceed expectations.”
The money is coming from the 316 registered licensees across the state. The Nevada Department of Taxation has issued 115 for cultivation facilities, 80 for production facilities, 61 for retail stores, 34 for distributors, and nine labs.
Image via Shutterstock. Graphs provided by Nevada Department of Taxation
February may be for lovers — and also apparently for marijuana, according to the latest state data.
Nevada stores raked in $35.35 million in recreational pot sales during February, marking the third highest monthly sales total since recreational marijuana became legal to sell last July.
Bill Anderson, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, said those strong sales numbers can be attributed to a handful of events that occured in February.
“Most notably the Super Bowl,” Anderson told the Review-Journal Monday.
“The industry is impacted by those special kinds of events,” Anderson said. “The marijuana industry has some unique characteristics, and we’re learning those as we move along here.”
February also marked the highest total tax revenue brought in by the recreational market since sales began on July 1, with the state reporting $5.95 million.
About $3.5 million of that came from the 10 percent excise tax on retail pot sales, while the rest came from the 15 percent tax on wholesale cannabis.
In total, Nevada has sold $263.7 million in recreational pot through the first eight months, just about $1 million short of the number the state projected for the entire first year of sales.
Where’s the pot money is going?
The state has brought in about $41.9 million worth of marijuana taxes though February, which is about 83 percent of the $50.3 million the state projected for the first full year of sales.
But where exactly has that $42 million gone so far?
About $26.4 million of the tax revenue has come from the special 10 percent tax on all recreational marijuana purchases in the state. Because of the law passed during the 2017 Legislature, all of that money has gone to the state’s rainy day fund.
There has been a recent push, most notably from state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, to direct that money to school districts to help fill their budget deficits. But from most indicators, including comments from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office, a decision about where that money ends up likely won’t come until the 2019 Legislature takes up the debate.
The rest of the tax revenue, about $15.5 million, comes from the 15 percent tax on the wholesale marijuana for both medical and recreational marijuana.
The first portion of that goes to the Tax Department to fund the cost of administering the marijuana program. The next $5 million is dedicated to be split among the local governments. Anything after that goes directly to the state’s general education fund. The state’s budget calls for the wholesale tax to generate approximately $22 million through the first year of sales, which Anderson said looks to be a very reachable goal at this point.
Anderson said the department distributed that $5 million to local governments across Nevada in March, and that it plans to send the money to the state education fund at the conclusion of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
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BOISE – Idaho’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Sunday spent most of their first televised debate in overall agreement when discussing the state’s biggest issues surrounding education, health care and taxes.
Arm teachers to improve school safety? No, said both former Rep. Paulette Jordan of Plummer and Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.
Expand Medicaid to help those who don’t qualify for health care coverage or make too little to qualify for a subsidy? Yes, and both have signed the petition currently being passed around the state to get a Medicaid expansion proposal on the November ballot.
Raise taxes to increase education spending? No, instead they agreed the state should find a way to reduce its long list of tax exemptions.
However, near the end of the hourlong debate, the two became animated when faced with questions over their endorsements. Despite having served inside the Idaho Statehouse for nearly two terms, Jordan has not received any endorsements from her Democratic colleagues.
If elected, Jordan, 38, would become not only Idaho’s first female governor, but also the first Native American elected governor in the nation. That distinction has quickly attracted national attention. She has received endorsements from national groups like Planned Parenthood and Indivisible, as well as a celebrity endorsement from Cher.
Meanwhile, Balukoff has secured endorsements from both former and present Democratic state and congressional lawmakers – even though he has never held an elected office higher than school board.
Balukoff, 71, unsuccessfully ran for political office for the first time as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate against Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in 2014. This time around, Balukoff’s experience working as a Boise businessman and school board member has attracted praise from legislative leaders.
Jordan downplayed the significance of the endorsements, saying she was more focused on unifying Idaho’s Democratic Party rather than highlighting its differences.
“I think it’s unfortunate, we (Democrats) are very few and far between, this is how we know we should stand together as family,” Jordan said.
Balukoff countered that his endorsements show that he can work with others and build trust.
“I would encourage you to check the record, all of the endorsements I have received have come after her candidacy,” Balukoff said, rebuffing Jordan’s claim that his endorsements came before she had thrown her hat in the ring.
The two candidates also notably split when debating marijuana in Idaho.
Jordan said she fully supports legalizing marijuana, and backed unsuccessful legislation in the state House to decriminalize it. “This is a natural medicine that has been here for thousands of years,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing it being replaced by the opioids,” which she called the “gateway to heroin.” Jordan added that legalizing marijuana could add to Idaho’s tax base and reduce its prison costs. “We are over-criminalizing people for using marijuana,” she said, and even for simply driving through the state en route from other states where it’s legal.
Balukoff said he opposes recreational marijuana but doubted that the issue would even come to his desk if elected, due to the current Republican-controlled Legislature. He also said marijuana should be reclassified so the federal government could research the benefits of medical marijuana.
When asked about decriminalization, Balukoff quickly pivoted to opioids: “Yes, we should talk about that, it’s not one of the most dangerous drugs but we don’t know what it could be used for. As I’ve talked to doctors, they do not see that as a replacement for opioids.”
Idaho has long remained steadfast in its strict anti-marijuana laws despite bordering three states — Washington, Oregon and Nevada — that have legalized recreational pot.
Balukoff and Jordan are vying to become the Democratic nominee for governor in the upcoming May 15 primary election. Whoever wins will go up against the Republican primary winner in the November election.
The governor’s race is wide open now that four-term Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t filed to run for re-election. However, in Republican-dominant Idaho, most Democratic candidates face an uphill battle in statewide and local elections.
The last time Idaho voters elected a Democrat to the top seat was former Gov. Cecil Andrus in 1990. Andrus, who died last year, served four nonconsecutive terms.
Staff writer Betsy Z. Russell contributed to this report.
IT FEELS like every time a new drug law reform policy to decriminalise weed for adults in Australia is suggested, people lose their minds and immediately begin fear mongering about why letting people smoke marijuana legally will lead to anarchy in the streets.
It’s actually quite easy to see why this opinion is held given the disorder and mayhem seen in America after Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington DC legalised recreational cannabis on January 1 this year.
Actually come to think of it, these US states have only seen a decrease in weed-related arrests, a stimulated economy from taxing marijuana and medicinal benefits for users.
If this is the case, why does Australia feel the need to peddle outdated anti-weed propaganda with pitchforks in hand?
My guess is a lack of education about the drug and an unwillingness to have an open mind when discussing whether it’s time to let adults — who already smoke weed anyway — to purchase it legally so they can stop dealing with criminals.
One only has to look at David Koch’s interview with Green’s leader Richard Di Natale on Sunrise earlier this week to see how embarrassingly stuck in the dark ages some Aussies are when it comes to the debate of legalisation.
The awkward interview, which Kochie appeared to research by watching the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness that explores the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students try marijuana, was nothing short of cringe-worthy and an embarrassment to those wanting to be heard in an educated and modern discussion.
“Most Australians would be going, look, you’ve been smoking marijuana,” Kochie said in response to Di Natale’s proposal.
Di Natale’s basis for legalisation was it would raise hundreds of millions of dollars in tax, would remove the power from the crime syndicates and would prevent innocent Aussies just wanting a smoke from obtaining damaging criminal records.
“We have got to get real about cannabis, nearly seven million Australians use it,” he said.
“The reality is that’s a choice that feeds big criminal syndicates, they are the ones that benefit from the current system.
“This is taking it out of the hands of criminals and putting it within a tightly controlled health framework.”
Kochie took offence to common sense and immediately reverted back to outdated “facts” about marijuana and even admitted that while Di Natale’s professional experience in the field as a drug and alcohol doctor made gave him more knowledgeable, he still wasn’t convinced.
To help break down the flaws in Kochie’s argument or to help sway those who are actually willing to have a discussion about the legalisation of weed, here’s some modern research.
ALCOHOL IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN WEED
Yes, Kochie was shocked when the Greens leader said weed was safer than booze. As Di Natale pointed out, people die from acute alcohol toxicity all the time, yet there have been zero recorded cases of overdosing on marijuana.
OK, sure you can’t die, but what about the other health risks that have been linked to weed over time?
In an attempt to sort fact from fiction, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine completed the world’s most comprehensive study into marijuana last year.
After examining more than 10,000 scientific abstracts dating back to 1999, the extensive 395-page report unearthed more than 100 conclusions about the health effects of recreational and therapeutic cannabis use — many of which support arguments it should be legal.
“The evidence suggests that smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for certain cancers (ie. lung, head, and neck) in adults,” one of the findings read.
And while it did admit smoking cannabis on a regular basis is associated with chronic cough and phlegm production, it explained taking the drug orally will likely reduce these symptoms — legalisation of weed means you can buy eatables and not be forced to smoke.
The report also confirmed the many therapeutic effects of weed.
“In adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, oral cannabinoids are effective antiemetics,” the report read.
“In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.
“In adults with multiple sclerosis (MS)-related spasticity, short-term use of oral cannabinoids improves patient reported spasticity symptoms.”
When looking at cannabis use and mental health, the findings offer mixed results.
“Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use the greater the risk,” the report read.
However, it added that a history of cannabis use in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses may be “linked to better performance on learning and memory tasks”.
The research found smoking weed did not appear to increase the likelihood of developing depression, anxiety or PTSD, and heavy cannabis smokers more likely to talk about their thoughts of suicide than non-users.
WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN
One of the most common arguments with the legalisation of weed is that more children will have access to the drug at a young age.
These people seem to forget that it will be treated with the same age restrictions used for the sale of alcohol — plus there’s nothing stopping a 15-year-old who wants to smoke pot from buying it off the street already.
But let’s forget the age restrictions for a minute and take a look at places that have legalised marijuana and how this has impacted underage use.
As it turns out, fewer teenagers are using cannabis in Colorado since the state’s tightly regulated legal market launched at the start of 2014.
According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana use by kids between 12 and 17 had dropped 11 per cent from year prior and 12.5 per cent from the previous two years in Colorado.
This drop is attributed to the amount of money that Colorado has poured into awareness and education programs, plus making it harder to obtain by removing it from the black market.
IT CAN’T BE WORTH THAT MUCH TO THE ECONOMY
According to marijuana industry analyst Tom Adams, the industry in the US took in nearly $AU11.7 billion in sales in 2017 — equivalent to the entire snack bar industry.
But with weed now legal in a number of US states, Adams estimates that national marijuana sales will rise to $AU14.3 billion in 2018, and to $AU27.4 billion in 2021.
State senator from Nevada Tick Segerblom has also praised the legalisation of weed, with the state reaping more than $A36 million in tax revenue since recreational sales started.
“It’s a great thing because the money was already being spent [when it was illegal] it’s just now being taxed,” he told CNN. “And cops don’t have to waste their time arresting users.”
Earlier research conducted by the Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University found the legalisation of weed raked in $AU74 million in tax in 2016, with $AU29 million of that put toward marijuana-related programs to educate users.
DOES WEED MAKE YOU LAZY?
Recent times have shown a huge surge in people smoking weed to help athletic performance as it deepens concentration, increases tissue oxygenation, and decreases muscle spasms before, during and after exercise.
Ultra-endurance athlete Avery Collins, who runs 240km per week, said training stoned helps him achieve flow quicker as the “runner’s high” acts upon the same receptors that receive the THC in marijuana.
“I use it as a way to intensify and enhance the run. It makes the longevity of the runner’s high last longer because technically you’re already high,” he told Motherboard.
Cannabis has long been accredited with anti-inflammatory properties and Mr Collins said he also smokes weed for the pain relief after gruelling training sessions.
“I’d be lying if I said [cannabis] doesn’t help soothe my muscles,” he added.
It’s not just runners who benefit either, with UFC commentator/stand-up comedian/podcaster Joe Rogan talking about its benefits for fighters.
“I think it (marijuana) is a performance-enhancing drug. If it wasn’t, a huge majority of jiu-jitsu guys wouldn’t be using it before they train,” he said on The MMA Hour. “They don’t do it because it hurts them; they do it because it helps them.”
He also claimed to have seen the benefits first-hand.
“I like to smoke pot and work out,” he said. “Getting high and working out is one of the least talked about and least appreciated pleasures of fitness.”
HOW AUSTRALIA CURRENTLY SITS WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD
Our country is slowly taking steps to change its stance on weed, with Victoria becoming the first state to legalise marijuana for young children suffering from epilepsy, while NSW also allows use for patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.
Queensland’s laws are the most flexible in the country, which grant patients of any age or suffering from a range of illnesses access to medicinal cannabis products.
Tasmania allows medical cannabis in limited circumstances where conventional treatment has been unsuccessful, as does Western Australia, South Australia, the NT and the ACT.
While the use of medical marijuana is a step in the right direction, we also need to be talking about legalising it for recreational use, which would bring us on par with a number of countries across the world.
In addition to the earlier mentioned US States, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Greece, parts of India, Italy, Jamaica, Luzembourg, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Solvenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay all have made recreational weed use legal or have decriminalised it — and the world hasn’t ended yet.
So maybe Kochie just needs to understand that letting adults enjoy a cheeky toke or two is not going to lead to the end of the world.
Candidate for U.S. Congress District 3, Michelle Mortensen, as seen during a Nevada Republican Men’s Club luncheon at the Bali Hai Golf Club on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. Photo by Daniel Clark for The Nevada Independent
It happens like clockwork.
Candidates announce their bids for office. Then the attack ads follow in short order, unabashedly targeting their voting records and more.
We’re here to help. The Nevada Independent already produces fact-checks for political advertisements and off-the-cuff remarks, but we also want to get ahead of the campaign game.
When politicians announce their candidacy for public office, we’ll roll out “On the Record” — our look at their voting history and stances on a broad array of subjects.
Now up: Republican congressional candidate Michelle Mortensen, the former consumer reporter for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas who announced her run for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in November. Issues are in alphabetical order.
Mortensen is pro-life and says she supports banning abortions after 20 weeks, a measure Congress recently took up.
“I hope we do that,” Mortensen said in an interview with The Nevada Independent. “I will fight for that, and I will advocate for that with every fiber of my being.”
On her website, Mortensen says that she supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
“Anytime a woman must face these circumstances it is a tragedy and she deserves support and compassion,” her website says.
Mortensen said that she loves school choice — generally, the concept that public education funds follow students to the schools or other programs that meet their needs.
“My little six-year-old, she learns one way, and my little three-year-old, she learns a completely different way, so you cannot say one size fits all. One size fits all is ridiculous,” Mortensen said.
She said that she doesn’t care if school choice is implemented on a state level, as the Legislature tried to do in the 2015 and 2017 sessions with Education Savings Accounts, or on a federal level, though she added that she “always” prefers to do accomplish things on the state level.
Asked about Trump’s proposal to invest $20 billion in school choice to be distributed to states with school choice programs, Mortensen said that she’d have to look at it.
“There’s always something in a bill that you go, ‘Oh gosh, well I wasn’t expecting that to be there.’ So you can’t make blanket statements,” Mortensen said. “I’m for school choice. That’s all you need to know.”
As a television reporter for 18 years, Mortensen says she has been at the scene of many mass shootings and other tragedies. And as a mother, she says that she worries about her three- and six-year-old daughters going to school and said it’s a “crying shame” that her three-year-old has to participate in shelter-in-place drills and that her six-year-old is scared every time an alarm goes off.
But she says none of that means that she is going to support getting rid of the Second Amendment.
“They are not equal. They are not one and the same,” Mortensen said. “I’m never going to exploit a victim. I’m never going to exploit a child.”
Mortensen told the shooting sports news website Ammoland that she will defend the right to bear arms “with all of my being” and that she does not support a new assault weapons ban.
On school safety, Mortensen said that she would like to see the Department of Education create some sort of block grant to the states so that individual communities can implement different school safety measures, whether that’s adding armed guards, an extra security system or something else.
“I think that could be a great solution to our school safety problem, because what you want to do in Lubbock, Texas is totally different than what you’re going to do here in Las Vegas. It’s going to be different than what you do in Pahrump. It’s sure different from what you’re going to do in L.A.,” Mortensen said. “But school districts need the money in order to keep our campuses safe so that we can be as assured as we possibly can be that when my little ones go to school that they’re protected.”
She also said that she doesn’t know anyone who has a problem with banning bump stocks, the devices used to speed up the fire of semi-automatic weapons so they operate more like automatic ones that were used in the 1 October shooting in Las Vegas.
“The NRA doesn’t have a problem with it. Nobody has a problem with it,” Mortensen said.
She also said that there is “nothing you can do” to stop people with mental health issues until they commit a crime. Mortensen said that she had multiple stalkers during her time as a television reporter and that no one could do anything to help until they crossed the line, in one case, an incident at the TV station.
“You can’t take away people’s personal rights. You can’t just accuse everybody of being mentally ill, and you can’t arrest someone before they’ve committed a crime because, ‘I think you might, and I think you’re a little off, I think you’re a little weird.’ No,” Mortensen said.
She said that even when action can be taken, typically the person is only placed on a short hold. In Nevada, people struggling with mental health issues can be placed on a legal hold for 72 hours if they are a danger to themselves or others.
“So quit lying; there is nothing you can do,” Mortensen said.
Asked whether she would support a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Mortensen said that she would have to look at the details of any repeal bill.
“You can’t make blanket statements. ‘Would you do this?’ Well I don’t know what that bill says, and I don’t know what’s in it. Everyone wants it to be a blanket statement type of answer. That’s not going to get you anywhere. That’s pandering to people who want to hear a certain sound bite,” Mortensen said.
She said that she gets irritated at pundits and politicians “who expect people who are not in office and don’t have any access to the direct information” to come up with a plan.
“Y’all, they spent all of 2017 trying to come up with a plan and they couldn’t do it,” Mortensen said. “So if this was so easy, it would be done.”
Mortensen said that through her reporting at Channel 8, she saw many problems with the Medicaid program. She noted the reimbursement rates in Nevada and that a lot of doctors don’t want to take Medicaid patients because of them.
She also criticized the “red tape” patients on Medicaid face. She noted one boy, Jermel, she helped through her reporting who was denied by Medicaid six times for a new wheelchair he needed after he had outgrown his old one. The Darrell Gwynn Foundation eventually got Jermel a new chair.
“This is the type of family that Medicaid should be helping. That was a little boy who needs this type of help,” Mortensen said.
Asked whether she generally supports Congress expanding Medicaid, Mortensen said “not really.” And asked if Medicaid should continue to cover the same population or be narrowed, she said that “it’s not about population but it’s about actually providing care.”
“So let’s not mince words and let’s not make it — that’s what everyone tries to do. They try to make it this evil thing where then they go, ‘See, she’s for hurting these people,’” Mortensen said. “No, it’s not about that y’all. Be real. The system’s broken. So don’t try to put someone in a corner and make them say something that they’re not saying.”
Asked whether the government should take steps to regulate prescription drug prices, Mortensen said that there’s a lot that should be looked at with prescription drugs — adding that some prescription drug companies have gouged people and “done things that are absolutely heinous” — but didn’t say either way whether regulation is the answer.
“Once again, see this is something that reporters and the media love to do. They want to put people in two different camps. ‘Oh see? You’re for expensive drugs, you’re for pharmaceutical companies, you’re not for the people.’ No, you’ve got to look at this with an open mind and you have to look at every angle of this,” Mortensen said.
She said that the country doesn’t always need more regulation to solve problems because “quite often that brings unintended consequences.”
Mortensen said that she “really liked” President Donald Trump’s four-point immigration plan, which included a pathway to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million DACA recipients, $25 billion in funding for the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, limiting so-called chain migration and ending the visa lottery program.
“I think what the president offered during the State of the Union was great,” Mortensen said. “He offered a phenomenal compromise.”
She criticized Congress for being unable to pass such a plan, saying that “they’re the stuck-up career politicians who couldn’t do it because (Democratic Senate Leader) Chuck Schumer’s name wasn’t on it. Neither was (Republican Sen.) Lindsey Graham.”
She said she supports the president’s proposed wall system at the border with Mexico, adding that calling it a “wall system” isn’t “sexy, it’s not sexy at all … but it’s 110 percent accurate, because you’re not going to go build this wall in water.”
Although she acknowledges she was a little kid when President Ronald Reagan gave his farewell address in 1989, she says she loves how he described America as a “shining city upon a hill.”
“In my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here,” Reagan said.
Mortensen said that means that there is a pathway to get into the country but that it “also means you come in the right way.”
“You don’t get on a drone and drop in from the sky. You don’t build a tunnel. You come in through the process,” Mortensen said. “I think at the heart of the issue, that’s what it’s about. We want to make the process better.”
As far as Trump’s proposal on chain migration, which would limit immigration sponsorship to spouses and minor children, Mortensen said that she understands why he said it but that she thinks that there will be some negotiation or compromise on it before it ever becomes law. She said that you wouldn’t want every “second, third, fourth, fifth eighth distant cousin” to be included, but that “any family unit is different.”
“I know there’s always going to be blanket rules. It needs to be limited, but you don’t need to be too ardent and you don’t need to be too wide open. It’s about balance,” Mortensen said.
She also said she doesn’t support jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, often known as sanctuary cities. She said that she hates to see what’s happening in the Bay Area, where she’s from. (For instance, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tipped immigrants off about an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in February.)
“I mean, it’s sad. It’s just so sad what they’re doing over there. We’ve got to stop it,” Mortensen said. “We’re a border state to California, y’all.”
She said she thinks the federal government is “absolutely going to” strip federal funding from California if it does not cooperate with federal immigration activities.
On refugees, Mortensen said that “vetting” shouldn’t be a bad word, but asked whether there should be different rules for different countries — as Trump proposed — she called it a “loaded question.”
“You probably don’t need different strokes for different folks, but during certain political seasons of life — right? — people get a little scared of people from a certain region and that’s going to be a real case by case basis,” Mortensen said.
However she said that, as a Christian, she is not supportive of a Muslim ban.
“I’m not about banning religions. It’s about vetting people,” Mortensen said. “We’ve got freedom of religion in this country if I say I defend the First Amendment, I got to defend it fully.”
Mortensen told Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks that in order to support impeaching Trump, “he’d have to do something that was an impeachable offense, and I don’t believe that he’s done anything that comes anywhere close to that.”
She called the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as the alleged affair and “hush money” payout with adult film star Stormy Daniels “noise.”
“Let me tell you one thing a lot of it is noise, noise, noise, noise, noise,” Mortensen said. “Stormy Daniels is a distraction. All of the Russian stuff is a distraction.”
In an interview with the sports shooting news website Ammoland, Mortensen said that the federal government should focus on “ensuring safety, supporting research, preserving the intercity highway system and supporting mobility for low-income travelers.”
She said that federal government money should be focused on maintaining and improving the country’s existing highway system and that private dollars should be leveraged to build new ones. She also said she supports empowering local governments to have a say in how highways are maintained by giving them highway block grants. (The federal government currently supports states and local jurisdictions through the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, which gives flexible funding to preserve and improve federal-aid highways.)
She also told Ammoland that federal transit dollars should be prioritized on buses over rail projects, and that mass transit subsidies and transportation vouchers should help ensure that those systems are serving the community.
Mortensen said that she did not support legalizing recreational marijuana, but that Nevada voters have chosen to do it, “so it’s legal, so that’s cool.” But she said that legalizing marijuana opened Pandora’s box and now Congress needs to take action, adding that it’s “ridiculous” that many marijuana-related companies are not able to store their profits in banks and have to keep millions of dollars in cash under armed guard.
“I think the biggest issue is the banking because that’s ridiculous,” Mortensen said. “I mean God forbid anyone break into one of those. I mean God forbid.”
Asked whether the federal government should leave whether or not marijuana is legal up to each state, Mortensen said she “probably would say we should probably let each state decide.”
“I’m always about the power of the people. The people are going to rule on this one anyway,” Mortensen said. “If 49 states make it legal, why are we being silly? Well that one doesn’t like it, fine well y’all don’t have it in your states. Let’s not be silly about it.”
Mortensen often decries the talking heads and pundits on television, blaming most of the country’s problems on politicians and the media. But she said that local media “at its core is awesome.”
However, Mortensen said that she’s worried about the increasing corporate ownership of local media, as recently publicized by a Deadspin video showing local television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group all broadcasting a nearly identical message about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” Sinclair owns and operates nearly 200 television stations across the United States, including KSNV in Las Vegas.
She said the statement the Sinclair stations recently broadcast “wasn’t horrific” but that she worries about what it says about the control and power they wield.
“It was just a perfect example of corporate ownership controlling a message all over the country, and if you liked the message you were like, ‘That’s not that bad,’ and if you didn’t like the message, you were like, ‘This is horrible,’” Mortensen said. “But that’s what the media does, it divides. No, the real response everyone should’ve had is, ‘Oh, how come they have that much power?’ regardless of what the message is.”
She criticized Democratic President Bill Clinton for signing into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996 — passed by a Republican-controlled Congress — that lifted limits on ownership of radio stations and caused thousands of local stations to be bought up by larger owners.
“We had independent radio stations all over and then all of a sudden corporate things happened and then everything was being syndicated,” Mortensen said.
Mortensen said that she “absolutely would love” to see the federal government turn over public lands to the states.
“We’re not saying we want to go and like, you know, put Walmarts up on Red Rock,” Mortensen said. “That’s what the extremists want to say that we’re saying.”
But she said that Nevada is a growing state and should be able to use its land to build housing and allow businesses room to grow. She said that she hopes to make progress on federal lands in Congress, but that she’s not going to be Pollyanna on the issue.
“If more people were realistic I think it would be so much better. You’re going to get there — I know Paul Ryan won’t be the speaker anymore — but it’s going to be a, ‘Let me hear what you have to say. We’ll do everything your way.’ It doesn’t work that way,” Mortensen said. “You’re a junior congressperson. You’re the freshman in high school who no one wants to hear from.”
Social media and cybersecurity
Amid reports that political data firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users and testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill, Mortensen told Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks that she is “a little leery” of imposing regulations on Facebook.
“I just want it to be fair,” she said.
She also told The Independent that the hearings on Facebook on Capitol Hill should be a sign to everyone under 40 that they need younger people in Congress.
“‘How does this work? Is it a real cookie?’ Like, no, that is sad,” Mortensen said.
Mortensen has also previously said that the biggest threat to national security is cyberterrorism.
“Whenever there’s a big data breach everyone is up in arms and the media says the sky is falling,” Mortensen said at a candidate forum in February. “A month later everyone has forgotten about it.”
Taxes and government spending
Mortensen said that she supported the president’s tax reform plan and cutting taxes more generally, but that she also supports reducing government spending. She criticized Congress’s recent passage of a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.
“So you can cut taxes all you want and that’s going to bring some growth, but if you keep spending or you do what Congress just did and you spend even more, it kind of nullifies any of the growth that you just had,” Mortensen said.
Asked where within the government she would cut, Mortensen said that the country is “overspending everywhere” and that she bets that most members of Congress who say government spending needs to be cut “don’t even know where we could cut.”
“There’s so much redundancy. There’s so much that needs to be tackled,” Mortensen said.
Mortensen said that she is not a fan of protectionism — the policy that advocates shielding a country’s domestic industries from competition by taxing imports — at all. She said that when the president proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, she thought to herself, “Oh come on now, I don’t know how I feel about this.”
But she said that the president and others, such as the head of the local Laborers union, Tommy White, have expanded her mind. She said that talking with White made her realize that some people believe that American steel quality is superior to other steel. (However, some manufacturers have recently pleaded for exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, saying that American steelmakers have already raised their prices and that they are struggling to find the quantity and quality of steel they need in the United States.)
But Mortensen said that Trump has broadened her horizons to “not be so closed minded” and see that “sometimes renegotiating [trade deals] is not necessarily a bad thing.”
Mortensen said that Congress needs to take into account the disparate views of older and younger veterans when it comes to developing solutions for the Veterans Administration (VA).
“One thing I’ve noticed is that younger veterans, they really like the idea of privatizing the VA. Older veterans, they hate that,” Mortensen said. “I think there’s going to have to be a little bit of a compromise with the VA.”
Mortensen said that she is “not a fan” of storing high-level waste at Yucca Mountain and that she doesn’t agree with Trump “at all” on the $120 million he proposed to restart the licensing process on the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository.
“I know there are quite a few people who are so adamant that it would be good, it would be good. I just feel Nevada got the short end of the stick on that one,” Mortensen said.
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) – Tourists and Las Vegas locals celebrated “4/20” for the first time since marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Nevada.
Many of the dispensaries gave away free marijuana or had special discounts.
“I think we are setting history here so this has been exciting no only for the customers but for our staff just being a part of something very special going on,” said General Manager of The Source Dispensaries Chris Vickers.
We even met a couple on Fremont Street that came to town from Dallas just to get married on “4/20”.
For the most part, it appeared people were behaving and following the laws. Our crew smelled marijuana but didn’t really see people smoking out on the streets since you are supposed to keep it confined to your own property.
Nevada Highway Patrol is going to have extra patrols throughout the entire weekend due to the celebration on “4/20”.
They will be looking for signs of impairment among drivers like driving too fast or too slow, switching lanes without a signal, and drifting into lanes.