(Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images file)

Nevada marijuana legalization gets official OK for 2016 ballot

LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s top election official gave the go-ahead Monday to two initiatives for the 2016 ballot: One to allow recreational marijuana use; the other to tighten background checks for anyone buying guns from private sellers and gun show exhibitors.

Secretary of State Ross Miller certified that proponents of the separate measures submitted enough signatures Nov. 12 to force the 2015 Legislature to consider each issue, or automatically put the question on the general election ballot.

(Updated March 16: Nevada lawmakers adjourned March 13 without taking action on the initiative, which sets up the 2016 ballot question, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.)

The groups needed 102,000 signatures statewide, or a little more than 25,000 from each of the state’s four congressional districts. Miller aide Catherine Lu said the number of signatures was well beyond those numbers.

Nevadans for Background Checks reported delivering nearly 247,000 signatures, and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had said it filed almost 200,000 signatures.

Proponents, led by Democratic state Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom of Las Vegas and Joe Brezny, a former Republican party official who now heads the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association, hailed Miller’s decision.

“The voters in Nevada clearly want a new approach to regulating marijuana,” Brezny said in a statement. “They see that taxing and regulating marijuana … makes more sense than the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

Buying marijuana in Vegas: Nevada has most liberal medical marijuana reciprocity law in U.S.

Nevada cities and counties have for months been adopting regulations for the legal distribution of medical marijuana, after the Legislature cleared the way for pot dispensaries.

The new measure would go further. It would make private possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for people over age 21. It would put Nevada with Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia in allowing recreational pot use.

Pot taxes: Updates on Colorado’s marijuana revenue

Meanwhile, in California: More coverage on the push for legalization on the West Coast