Share story

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Jim Hartman brings a unique perspective to Friday’s 420 celebration of marijuana.

A chief opponent of Nevada’s legalization of pot for recreational use, Hartman was student body president when he graduated from high school in Berkeley, California, in 1966.

The former San Francisco Bay Area lawyer moved to rural Genoa several years ago. He founded Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy and helped write the opposition language that appeared on the ballot in 2016, when voters approved the measure.

Friday marks the first 420 since Nevada started allowing recreational pot sales last summer.

Hartman emphasizes that he respects others’ right to celebrate the herb.

“But not a particular fan myself,” he said in an interview this week. “I will mark 420 a distance away from the celebrations.”

Hartman believes Americans remain divided on the issue and the current move toward liberalization of marijuana laws nationally eventually will wane.

“I think people would like to see it decriminalized. They would like to see it regulated. They would like to see it taxed,” he said. “But all of the initiatives that have been on the ballot really don’t do those things. What we have in the United States is a commercialization of marijuana that I think is very, very dangerous.”

In all, 30 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the pro-pot National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws.

Nine of those states and Washington, D.C., also have broad legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year.

Supporters say, among other things, that marijuana’s various forms have many medical benefits, that pot is no more dangerous than other drugs and that it can bring in tax revenues.

Hartman worries legal marijuana will bring an increase in crime and other problems. But he thinks most opponents share his primary concern — the impact on youths.

“While people may want to see it legalized, decriminalized, they don’t want a pot shop in their neighborhood. They don’t want candies available to kids,” he said.

He predicts a backlash eventually will put the brakes on support for legalization in other parts of the country.

“As a kid, I remember getting on airplanes where there was a smoking section,” Hartman said. “We have come over a 30- or 40-year period recognizing that, ‘Boy that really wasn’t where we should be going.’ I think the same thing will happen with marijuana, but it may take a few years.”