Nevada is angling to be the first of the states that legalized last November to begin the sale of cannabis to adults for recreational use.
Last November, Question 2 was approved 602,400 (54.4 percent) to 503,615 (45.5 percent). The civil right’s aspects of the bill — protection for adult possession of up to one ounce of flower and a quarter-ounce of hash — went into effect January 1. But like other states who just passed decriminalization and legalization laws, Nevada needs some time to get the taxes and distribution mechanisms dialed in.
Earlier this week, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary regulations brought forward by the state’s Department of Taxation, which will allow the state to issue recreational marijuana licenses by July 1.
According to the report, the state’s existing medical marijuana program created the basic outline for the new temporary recreational regulations.
The reasoning behind the relative speed of these developments? The state’s proposed budget: Governor Brian Sandoval already has plans for $70 million in tax revenue Nevada’s expected to bring in from cannabis.
One major result of the decision is the fact that Las Vegas will become the largest tourist destination in the world with access to legal cannabis.
“Las Vegas is a major national and international tourist destination,” said Mason Tvert,Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Visitors from all over the country and around the world will get to see what regulated marijuana stores look like, and they will be able to return home and tell their friends, families and colleagues about it.”
Tvert believes the experiences these tourists have in Vegas dispensaries will go a long way in helping to de-stigmatize things for the cannabis industry.
“Once people see these stores, they tend to become more open to the idea of legalizing and regulating cannabis for adult use,” he said. “They can see that they are just like other stores that sell products for adults and that there is no reason to be so scared of them.”
He added that, for a lot of tourists in Las Vegas, “purchasing legal marijuana from a regulated store will be the least shady aspect of their trip.”
Erik Altieri, Executive Director of the nation’s oldest cannabis nonprofit — NORML — pointed to the diversity in Vegas’s visitors.
“These tourists come from all over the country and the globe, representing a wide array of personal backgrounds and political beliefs. Many of these visitors may not necessarily take a ski trip in Colorado or spend a weekend in San Francisco,” he said. “[But] given its designation as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country, it is very likely many of those tens of millions of individuals will have their first interaction with the legal cannabis industry while [in Las Vegas].”
Altieri echoed Tvert’s sentiments on the results of folks from all over having positive experiences with Vegas dispensaries.
“As they say, seeing is believing and once you see firsthand how regulation not only fails to bring about devastating, negative consequences, but provides a safe, regulated businesses from which to purchase cannabis while raising new tax revenue,” he said, “it is safe to say — in this case — what happens in Vegas is very unlikely to stay in Vegas.”
To get the local take we reached out to Eli Scislowicz, General Manager of the Las Vegas Dispensary Nu-Leaf, one of the dispensaries closest to the famed Vegas strip —on the outskirts of the Convention Center.
“I think Vegas has a really high potential,” he said. “We See all of America come here at some point to have fun and what better way to have fun in Sin City than to have a little cannabis with it… I’d say the projections given during the Question 2 campaign, which I believe was about $450 million dollars in the first five years, is probably about right. Especially since the governor is asking for an additional excise tax at the point of purchase.”
Scislowicz added that the importance of helping to fill local coffers — not just the state’s — is crucial, especially in Vegas.
“[Las Vegas] does not have the best school system and is spending a lot of money to build that Raider stadium,” he said. “So we’re going to come in and save the children… Nevada is used to regulating industries that are federally illegal and not touched by other states. I think they’re the perfect mix to introduce those newbies from Arkansas to our industry.”