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April 18, 2014

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WSJ: Dems look to use marijuana to energize Nevada voters

There’s nothing like marijuana to get voters off their couches and to the polls, according to some political strategists.

National Democrats are looking at putting marijuana legalization initiatives on the 2012 ballot in a handful of swing states, including Nevada, to motivate young voters, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some analysts believe Prop. 19 in California, which would legalize a certain amount of marijuana, has helped Democrats running at the top of the ticket. Republicans nationally have been more enthusiastic about the upcoming election than Democrats, according to polls.

The Wall Street Journal said the unnamed strategists were looking at states that could be competitive in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Efforts to legalize pot in Nevada have been largely unsuccessful so far. The Nevada chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project submitted an initiative petition earlier this year, but lost national funding, according to the group’s campaign manager, Dave Schwartz (no relation to author.)

Schwartz said they would likely fall short of collecting the 100,000 signatures they needed to collect by November. The initiative would tax and legalize sale of up to an ounce of marijuana for an individual. It would have been sold at about 120 stores statewide.

“There have been discussions where (marijuana legalization) has tended to drive out younger voters,” Schwartz said. He noted that while many of those supporters would lean Democratic, there is crossover support on the issue from libertarian-leaners, such as supporters of Republican Rep. Rand Paul.

Schwartz said he started a new group, Sensible Nevada, to work toward “ending the prohibition on marijuana.”

He said the group will be active in the 2011 Legislature and is evaluating options for the 2012 ballot.

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