While many United States citizens took to the polls to vote for America’s next president-elect on Nov. 8, Nevada citizens where faced with another decision regarding their state’s laws — whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.
Massachusetts, California and Nevada voted in favor of legalization, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana, which is now legal in 28 states and in an additional 16 states for limited medical use.
Two bills in Utah, specifically Senate Bill 89 and Senate Bill 73, that were for the legalization of medical marijuana were defeated by the Utah State Senate.
In order to put medical marijuana on the voting ballot, petitioners needed to gather over 100,000 valid signatures before April 15. Days before the due date, the professional signature gathering firm announced that it would not appear on the ballot due to the difficulties of gathering signatures.
“I signed the petition — I believe marijuana should be legalized throughout the country, and medical is the start,” Ogden native Nick Engle said. “It may be mentally addictive, but so are sports channels and social media. It is no way physically addictive. Therefore, addiction is in invalid argument. I feel like marijuana is very beneficial to people in this day and age.”
Plenty of Utah citizens are now concerned with the law of recreational use in Nevada with West Wendover only being a two hour drive from Ogden.
“Marijuana is a gateway drug,” said Corey Cutler of Salt Lake City. “I have been in an out of jails and rehabs my whole life because of my addiction that started with marijuana. It’s not worth it.”
Some also believe that with the legalization of the marijuana, growers will eventually modify it, making it no longer a safe-natural plant.
“Big companies aren’t going to grow it with just water and soil,” said Joseph Chung. “They are going to add chemicals to make it grow faster and harvest larger. Potentially, it is not going to be good for ones system at all.”
Many Utah residents believe that legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in Utah is out of question because the Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-day Saints has such a huge influence on Utah’s law makers.
“The church puts their opinions out there, and those matter to Utah law makers,” said Weber State student Morgan Giles. “The church has a huge influence on the vast majority of Utah because it is the dominant religion in the state. I feel that the law should pass here because it would not only create jobs, but bring in huge tax revenues and lessen crime.”
According to Fox 13 News, Representative Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, believes that those law making effects in nearby states will pursue change on a local level here in Utah.
“I think that we’ll make some progress this year,” Froerer told Fox 13. “Hopefully we’ll make it, especially now with what’s taken place in Nevada, that people and legislators will take a serious look at what needs to happen.”
Froerer believes that Utahans will have no problem making the drive to Nevada to purchase marijuana, despite it being illegal to move it across the state lines.
The legalization of marijuana in Nevada will take place on Jan. 1, 2017 and will remain illegal in Utah.