Las Vegas Places Bets on Legal Cannabis

NEVADA: Cannabis has always received the short end of the joint. Thanks to lobbyists and questionable government decisions over the years, the plant has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. But the situation is slowly changing, state by state. The plant has already been legalized in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington (state), and Washington DC. According to political oddsmaker Larry Josephson of, Nevada and Maine are likely to follow suit, as are our neighbors to the north in Canada.

Nevada is set to vote on legalization on November 8th, with Josephson giving it a 75% chance of success.

Some might label the likes of Colorado and Washington “progressive” for legalizing cannabis. But, in reality, they’re simply winning the race to catch up.

If you’ve done your research, you know that cannabis is not a highly addictive drug and contains medicinal properties. Yet, it has taken decades of education and patience to even begin to counter the stigma that a man named Harry Anslinger (first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics) attached to “The Devil Weed” back in the 1930s.

With 88,000 people dying from alcohol-related causes annually in the United States, and far-fewer dying from cannabis use, it’s hard to believe so many people still have their head in the sand on the issue of legalization. But I will spare you the rant that gets replayed over and over again in circle sessions around the world.

While individual states are coming out of their dark-age thinking as the stigmatic smoke starts to clear, the federal government hasn’t made any hints of progress. And that’s a shame, for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, legalization would provide a taxation windfall. Social Security, interstate infrastructure, health care: there’s no end to the list of programs and services that could benefit from federal legalization and taxation of cannabis.

Secondly, the people – whom democracy is supposed to serve – want it. As Josephson mentions in his odds, “polls show that a clear majority (55-percent) of Americans favors unfettered legalization, up from a meager 12-percent in the Woodstock days.”

Yet, with a Republican-controlled Congress that has no interest in progress – seemingly on any issue – full legalization on the federal level is a ways off. I hope no bridges collapse in the meantime because there was no money in the budget for repairs.