The leader of Nevada's ballot initiative to legalize marijuana challenged
the nation's drug czar to a debate Wednesday, and even offered to pay for a
plane ticket for John Walters, the director of the White House's Office of
National Drug Control Policy.

Billy Rogers, spokesman for Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, said
Wednesday he was dismayed to learn Walters' trip to Las Vegas would be paid
for with taxpayer dollars. Rogers offered to front Walters the cost of a
round-trip airline ticket, provided it was an economy class seat.

"It's outrageous that a federal official would spend public funds to come
here and tell citizens how to vote," Rogers said. "(Walters) is coming to
the wrong state. Nevadans don't look kindly on government types telling
them how to live their lives."

Walters is planning to visit Nevada Oct. 10, and will likely talk with law
enforcement officials and visit treatment centers, said spokeswoman
Jennifer de Vallance.

Walters' itinerary is being planned now, and Rogers was welcome to send a
formal invitation to a debate with possible times, locations and formats,
de Vallance said.

"We would certainly take a look at it," de Vallance said.

As for the offer of a plane ticket, it's against federal regulations for
employees to accept gifts worth more than $20, de Vallance said.
Additionally, Walters' visit is part of a West Coast tour that includes
other states besides Nevada, his spokeswoman said.

"For legal and safety reasons, we prefer to handle our own transportation,"
de Vallance said.

Walters visited Nevada this summer to speak out against the ballot
initiative. His office has also launched an aggressive campaign targeting
marijuana use, calling it a potent, addictive drug that often serves as a
gateway to high-risk behavior.

Rogers left his job as state director of the Washington, D.C.-based
Marijuana Policy Project to head the Nevada coalition. The group garnered
109,048 signatures to place the question on the ballot, well over the
61,336 required by the secretary of state's office. The Washington
organization has provided substantial support to the initiative, Rogers said.

If approved by Nevada voters in November and again in 2004, Question 9
would amend the state constitution to legalize possession of up to 3 ounces
of marijuana by adults at least 21 years of age.

Pubdate: Thu, 19 Sep 2002
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Emily Richmond
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Nevadans for Responsible Law