Elko County voters will be asked five ballot questions when they head to the polls beginning Saturday, and the marijuana question seems to be the one that’s on most people’s minds.

We think selling marijuana to raise money for schools makes about as much sense as selling child porn to raise money for daycare.

Lots of people have come out against this measure in recent weeks, including the Elko City Council, but the 11th-hour opposition may be too late to sway voters who have been swinging toward legalization in significant numbers.

An unscientific poll at elkodaily.com indicated 3-to-1 support for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana – a margin even greater than polls taken in other parts of the state that are less conservative than Elko.

We think the City did an excellent job of outlining the reasons to vote “no” on Question 1 in their letter, signed by Mayor Chris Johnson and published last week in the Free Press. While the impacts of legalization in other states are open to debate, the case against marijuana is clear. This is no longer the “harmless” drug that swept America’s youth culture in the 1960s and ‘70s. Marijuana has been cultivated to strengths that make it highly impairing and potentially dangerous.

There are plenty of arguments for legalizing marijuana that make sense, but they fall short of the arguments against it. We commend Jim Hartman of Genoa, president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy, for his tireless efforts battling this ballot measure virtually single-handedly since it came to light.

Question 1

Many state leaders have also come out against the gun background check question, including Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“He has concerns that this measure would dilute the legitimate rights of law-abiding Nevadans and that it does not actually address the complex issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals,” said his spokeswoman.

We agree.

Requiring background checks for gun show sales is certainly a reasonable idea, but this measure would catalogue virtually all private transactions.

We vote “no,” along with the governor and nearly all top law enforcement officials in the state.

Question 3

We were very disappointed that the Guinn Center was unable to make a clear presentation on this question calling for electricity markets to be open and competitive.

Competition is good for business in the long run, and supporters say the measure would lower electric costs, but opponents cite examples of price increases in other states after deregulation. The official conclusion on the ballot is that the fiscal impact cannot be determined, so it is a crap shoot.

Funded primarily by big casinos, this measure appears headed toward passage despite opposition from their labor unions. Perhaps those key players could serve as a guide in deciding how to vote on this one. Or you could flip a coin, because nobody can say for sure whether it would have an impact on electric rates.

Question 4

We generally oppose ballot questions that call for tax breaks, because if anybody is going to be taxed, everybody should be taxed.

In this case, however, the sales tax on medical equipment including home oxygen delivery is one we can do without. Question 4 is the only state ballot measure we are supporting.

Nevada does not tax people for food, nor should our state tax people for devices they need to stay alive or live more normal lives.

County Advisory Question 1

Thought you were finished? No, there is one final item on the ballot, and it is one of those trick questions.

The state has mandated counties to call for a vote on gas tax “indexing,” which would tie the current tax to inflation. This makes more sense than leaving it at a flat amount per gallon. The measure would also apply a portion of diesel tax to local road funding for the first time.

Elko County Advisory Question 1 could be rephrased: Are you willing to pay a little more for gas in order to have better streets and highways in our county?

Our answer is yes.

Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are Travis Quast, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak McKown.

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