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Anti-Pot Summit Angers Pro-Pot Forces

One of the big questions facing Nevada voters this fall is pot. Or, rather the legalization of pot for recreational use.

This week in both Reno and Las Vegas, about 200 people will gather for a two-day summit to learn about the marijuana. The conference is decidedly anti-marijuana. An organizer told the Las Vegas Sun last week that supporters of legalization were not invited because the drug is still illegal at the federal level.

That has led to some anger from pot supporters. Money for the program is coming from a federal grant.

Kevin Sabet, who wrote “Reefer Sanity—7 Great Myths About Marijuana, told KNPR's State of Nevada that the legalization push is not about letting an adult have the occasional joint without legal ramifications but it is really about "rolling out the carpet for tobacco 2.0."

"It's all about getting customers and it's all about the money," Sabet said. "I think the worry is that there is going to be a massive industry just like the tobacco industry. A massive new addictive industry this time making money from marijuana."

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He said he doesn't have faith that the marijuana industry is going to be responsible. 

Sabet also pointed out that many of the promises from legalized recreational use in Colorado and Washington state have not come true. For example, he said there was still a black market for the drug and much of the tax revenue that was promised has come but hasn't been spent on schools and parks and other projects that voters had expected.

Joe Brezny is the spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. He told us for him it is not about the tax money but about not hassling someone who prefers to smoke marijuana instead of having a drink at the end of the day.

“Regulation any way you slice it is a better way to go,” Brezny said, "

He said regulation is a better way to tackle a lot of problems that are part of the black market, including people who have formed a marijuana habit, edible products that could be attractive to kids like gummy bears and ice cream and product safety. 

Brezny also points out that the system of utter prohibition has failed. 

"The reason to do this is marijuana prohibition is a really expensive failure," Brezny said, "It penalizes people. It gives them the choice to be called criminals or addicts when they're neither."

Brezny believes those who support marijuana should be part of the summit going on in Nevada; however, Sabet said you wouldn't invite Phillip Morris to an anti-smoking summit. 

In November, voters will weigh the options and decide whether recreational marijuana will be legalized. 

Guests

Joe Brezny, spokesman, Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol; Kevin Sabet, author, "Reefer Sanity -- 7 Great Myths About Marijuana"; assistant professor, University of Florida College of Medicine.

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