Having graduated from Carson High School, University of Nevada, Reno, and the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Matt Griffin is undoubtedly loyal to the Silver State. The fifth generation Nevadan, who specializes in initiative petitions, has worked on almost 20 since 2010 that have included a spectrum of issues from the Personhood Amendment in 2012 to Nevada’s Margin Tax for Public Schools last year. But the one most germane to MMEs is IP1 which will appear on the ballot in November 2016 and would tax and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MEDICAL CANNABIS?
In my opinion, the science is undeniable, and I believe it helps — at least some people. I have never been given a legitimate reason why a proven remedy like marijuana should be denied to a patient. No one has convinced me that medical marijuana is worse than any prescriptions you get from your doctor.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY?
My particular focus is government affairs and initiative petitions. Marijuana Policy Project approached me about working on drafting a petition to circulate for signatures in 2014 and to appear on the ballot in 2016. They called me to see if I would work on it and I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason as to why I would oppose the issue.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK ON IP1?
It appealed to me. From a policy perspective this issue is appropriate for direct democracy and a vote of the people. Social issues like this are appropriate for the ballot box. My involvement is to draft petitions for issues that I believe are deserving of a vote.
RECIPROCITY…NOT A LOT OF STATES THOUGHT TO INCLUDE THAT IN THEIR REGULATORY FRAMEWORK?
These things get passed because a lot of people like it. It was a very logical application. Our state depends on tourism and when tourists come here to visit they need to be able to take their medicine legally.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHANCES ARE NEVADA VOTERS WILL PASS IP1 IN NOVEMBER 2016?
This is an issue, by necessity, that must be handled by the states. The people of the state should have the opportunity to vote on it. If voters are ever going to pass it, a presidential year is the best chance it has to pass. Everybody likes to say their state is unique. It’s everybody’s line about their state, but Nevada really is unique insofar as many voters identify with libertarian issues, and marijuana isn’t a Democrat versus Republican issue.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF AN ACTIVIST?
I would characterize myself as someone who philosophically had no objection to the issue. I had a limited role that I could play in bringing the petition to fruition. I wouldn’t characterize myself as an activist or someone seeking social justice or change. In my mind, it’s an issue that the people should vote on and have a say on.
DO YOU THINK IN 10 YEARS THE STIGMA ASSOCIATED WITH MARIJUANA WILL BE A THING OF THE PAST AND CANNABIS WILL BE THOUGHT OF AS LEGITIMATE MEDICINE?
I have every confidence that within a few years it will be a mainstream business. I think the investment in cannabis is just beginning. First of all, I think as the science around it further develops there’s going to be the ability for people to better gauge the potency and effects of marijuana. That will go a long way in making it mainstream. Secondly, the probability of consuming marijuana by smoking a joint in ten years will be largely a thing of the past.