A Las Vegas man was arrested after allegedly running a fake marijuana dispensary called Elevate Medical Pharmacy.
Kyle Moore, 22, and Andrea Lawrence, 23, are doing their part to pump some money into the state of Nevada.
“I bought a gram of blue dream, a gram of pineapple express … couple tincture drops,” the young man told me as we stood at a counter at a downtown marijuana dispensary.
These two kids are visiting from Madison, Wis. and they’re on a pot-buying spree: Las Vegas Releaf dispensary today, Essence, yesterday.
The damage for two days?
“I think $400, $417,” Kyle told me by the cash register.
In July, customers like them spent $27 million during Nevada’s first month of recreational sales, and our legislative “godfather” of marijuana, State Senator Tick Segerblom, couldn’t be happier.
“Really amazing, particularly when you compare them to other states – Colorado, Oregon, Washington, we’re double those states for the first month,” Segerblom says, adding, “we didn’t have Henderson online, we didn’t have Washoe County online, so it’s really looking good.”
A 10-percent retail tax on that $27 million in recreational sales pumped $2.7 million into the state’s rainy day fund.
On top of that, a 15-percent wholesale tax on both medical and recreational pumped more than $970,000 to schools.
Total tax boost, just for July: about $3.7 million.
The wholesale tax is projected to bring in $56.2 million over the next two years; the retail tax, $63.5 million.
Segerblom expects sales to remain strong.
“If you look at the other states, they are still going up,” he says. “After we look at August, if we see the revenues are still high, I would like to see the Governor have a special session and take some of the extra money and put it into the school districts, and apply it based on where the dollars come from.”
Las Vegas Releaf General Manager Lissa Lawatsch says business has been steady … and July was gangbusters.
“Business has been great. Obviously, in the first month, we saw lines out the door. Everybody rushing in so they could have the experience,” Lawatsch told me.
Nevada’s Department of Taxation says, in addition to generating tax revenue from sales, licensing and application fees from the state’s 250 licensed marijuana facilities have generated $6.5 million in state revenue. Those facilities include 53 retail stores, 92 cultivation facilities, 65 product manufacturing facilities, nine testing labs, and 31 distributors.
The footage was taken in 2015 when the incident occurred but was only released after the former officer involved, Richard Scavone, pleaded guilty in court this week.
By Rochelle Richards Las Vegas Review-Journal
September 29, 2017 – 8:40 am
Here are your Friday morning headlines:
1. The Clark County School District approved only part of the proposed cuts to save support staff jobs. The move saved 47 currently filled jobs, and avoided cutting up to $4.2 million from its budget. Instead the school board voted to negotiate with unions to identify two furlough days to save money. The district’s budget deficit is currently an estimated $50 million to $60 million.
2. Nevada dispensaries raked in more than $27 million during the first month of recreational marijuana sales, generating more than $3.6 million in taxes. The state has also pulled in $6.5 million for marijuana license and application fees. Those revenues will be used to cover the administrative costs to regulate the industry for the Tax Department and local governments, and all remaining funds go to the state’s public education fund.
3. Las Vegas police are investigating after a machete fight and shooting left three people injured. An altercation led to the machete fight, and then a few minutes later shots were fired in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven on Boulder Highway. One person suffered a stab wound to the leg, and two others suffered gunshot wounds to the leg.
Contact Rochelle Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5505. Follow @MediaStark24 on Twitter.
Friday’s Headlines: CCSD saves jobs with less cuts, Nevada marijuana sales soar during first month, Las Vegas police investigating machete fight and shooting
Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 | 2 a.m.
An appearance by Magic Johnson, the effects of legalized recreational pot, the use of “Game of Thrones” as a business strategy and more interactive slot machines are expected to be among the highlights of Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Monday through Thursday at the Sands Expo.
First held in 2001 and presented by the American Gaming Association (AGA), G2E has become one of the world’s largest gaming trade shows. Some 428 companies and organizations will display goods and services on the exhibit floor, and organizers say the show will use all 1.8 million square feet of the Sands Expo meeting and event space.
Exhibit space is only part of the story. Attendees will have the chance to hear keynote speeches from industry leaders such as Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, and notables such as Johnson.
The basketball legend will speak about his post-NBA career and with Freeman discuss the ramifications of legal sports betting.
The discussion is timely. The Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the law prohibiting sports betting across the country, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The AGA has lobbied to repeal the law and legalize sports betting nationwide.
Other gaming industry leaders will examine another tricky legal issue for gaming companies, the move to legalize recreational pot. Gaming and pot regulators from Nevada, Colorado and other states will participate in a panel discussion titled “The Highs and Lows of Marijuana Legalization.”
And while “Game of Thrones” is a slot machine theme, the hit TV show is also apparently a basis for business strategy. Roger Snow, Scientific Games senior vice president, will discuss what the Lannisters, the Starks, the Dothrakis, and (especially) the White Walkers can teach people about business.
G2E is also a chance for gaming manufacturers to show off their wares. The makers of interactive games as well as “regular” slots use G2E to garner attention.
Konami is promoting an interactive music game called “Beat Square”; Gamblit is debuting a “Pac-Man” game; GameCo is rolling out games involving DJ Steve Aoki and the Terminator franchise; Scientific Games is unveiling James Bond-themed games; and Aristocrat announced a new slot based on the HBO show “Westworld.”
Many of the goods on display have nothing to do with celebrities or television shows. They include advanced touch screens, more powerful graphics computing for slots, new electronic payment options at table games and advanced air-filtering systems.
North Las Vegas police are continuing to look for two people who were inside a Jeep when it hit a Good Samaritan after a robbery earlier this month.
Everything about Elevate Medical Pharmacy looked like a legitimate marijuana dispensary.
A large sign out front displayed the business’ name. A neon “Open” sign shone bright in the window.
Inside, it looked like a typical pot shop: OG Kush, Sour Diesel and other popular marijuana strains inside glass display cases, a variety of cannabis-infused edibles labeled with dates of when they were baked, and even pamphlets listing the THC potency of most of the products.
But Elevate Medical Pharmacy, at 2951 Westwood Drive in Las Vegas, never had a license to sell, according to a police report released Thursday.
The Metropolitan Police Department, along with Clark County and state investigators, busted the shop on Sept. 19. Clayton Bernard, 36, was arrested on suspicion of illegally selling marijuana. A felony even though recreational marijuana sales have been legal in Nevada since July 1.
Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and CEO of The+Source dispensaries, said Elevate is the first illegal shop he’s heard of in Las Vegas “in a long time.”
“We’re still in a transition from the illegal market to the legal marijuana market,” Jolley said. “I’m glad to know that Metro hasn’t backed down from this even though we’re now in a retail marijuana market.”
Bernard, who also goes by “Raz,” was “very confrontational” and told police that Elevate “had nothing to do with marijuana sales,” according to the report.
While being arrested, Bernard said he did not understand his rights “because he wasn’t a citizen of the United States,” and added that he was trying to start his own country, the report said.
Police seized about 25 pounds of smokable flower, 36 pounds of edibles and 80 grams of THC wax from the store, according to the report. In legal stores, one ounce of smokable marijuana can cost $200-$400, depending on the strain.
It was not immediately clear how long Elevate Medical Pharmacy had been in operation.
The Tax Department said it received a tip about the unlicensed marijuana store and contacted Clark County officials, who then reached out to Metro.
“This is a good reminder to the community to make sure they’re purchasing marijuana from a state-licensed store, where the products have been produced and tested under tight regulations,” Tax Department director Deonne Contine said. “Consumers can check to make sure a store is licensed by looking at the list we maintain on marijuana.nv.gov.”
In other states, especially California, illegal dispensaries have plagued the marijuana industry for years.
There were an estimated 106 illegal medical marijuana dispensaries across Los Angeles County as of April, according to a county report. And while about one-third had been shut down, an L.A. deputy district attorney described the process like “playing a game of whack-a-mole,” as the businesses they shut down keep popping back up, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Bernard was released from jail on $3,000 bail, and is scheduled to be back in court on Dec. 5.
Contact Colton Lochhead at email@example.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.
2951 Westwood Drive, Las Vegas, NV
WASHINGTON (AP) – WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s hard to justify $45 for an ordinary black cotton T-shirt, but the customer at a store in Washington D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood does so without question. The clerk grabs a clear plastic box containing about one gram of marijuana and drops it into the bag, reciting a practiced line: “Thank you and here’s a gift for you to have as a souvenir.”
It’s another satisfied customer in the so-called District of Cannabis, the unique legal and commercial space spawned by the District of Columbia’s unusual approach to marijuana legalization.
A 2014 ballot initiative to legalize recreational use passed overwhelmingly. But unlike the eight states that have legalized recreational use, the Washington initiative also maintained it was still illegal to buy or sell the drug.
So instead of the straightforward marijuana storefronts common in Colorado or Nevada, Washington has developed a thriving “gift economy” marijuana industry. These businesses–many offering delivery–sell everything from coffee cups to artwork–all overpriced and all coming with a little something extra.
It’s a curious legal and semantic tightrope, and one the District’s politicians and police seem determined to keep walking.
“It’s definitely unique,” said Morgan Fox of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. “The DC city council and the city government don’t want to be busting people for weed. They want this to work and work smoothly.”
Washington’s local government didn’t choose to make the District a real-time sociology lab for alternative legalization. The roots of this strange legal middle ground lie in the District’s tortured relationship with the federal government.
“We would have regular stores if we had the normal rights of a U.S. state,” said Nikolas Schiller, co-founder of DCMJ, a pro-legalization group that helped draft the initiative’s text.
All District laws are subject to review by a congressional committee, which can veto them or alter them by attaching riders to federal appropriations bills. After the initiative passed, Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican from neighboring Maryland, introduced a rider prohibiting the District government from spending any funds or resources on developing a regulatory or taxation system for marijuana sales.
Harris, an anesthesiologist and member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, remains a staunch opponent of recreational marijuana use and has no regrets about complicating the District’s legalization model.
“I think the District of Columbia made a bad decision,” Harris said in an interview. “I would hope the District comes to its senses and realizes the dangers.”
According to marijuana merchants, the change has resulted in spiraling supply and demand. The relative ease of availability without risking arrest or having to maintain a relationship with a dealer has brought a wave of consumers of all ages and demographics. And that wave of demand has brought a wave of new suppliers.
In addition to the dozens of different businesses working through the gift loophole, there are now hundreds of marijuana-themed public events taking place across the city — most openly advertised on social media.
“Seven days a week, you can find an event going on,” said Gregory Moorer, whose Laid Back Lords company offers marijuana gifts to accompany $50 baseball caps and $80 sweatshirts.
One such event, known as Cannemania, happens weekly at a closed Ethiopian restaurant. Inside isn’t so much a stoner party as a fairly businesslike trade show. On a recent night, about 150 people crowded in to peruse about 25 different vendors’ tables offering large jars of buds and a huge variety of edibles, from brownies to marijuana-infused gummi bears. There were also marijuana vape pens and “concentrates” —a substance that looks like candle wax and requires a waterpipe and a blowtorch to consume.
Vendors hawked their wares like THC sommeliers and offered free hits of concentrates. But there was, according to the rules, no smoking of marijuana buds. For the most part everyone kept to the necessary gift loophole script: your money technically bought you a raffle ticket, some expensive rolling paper or, in one case, the baseball card of former Cleveland Indians shortstop Julio Franco.
Despite the ubiquity of the drug, it would be inaccurate to describe the District as some sort of marijuana free-for-all. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government has worked hard to establish clear lines on what is and is not permitted. It remains illegal to smoke in public. Arrests for public consumption have actually spiked since the legalization initiative came into effect. Bowser also personally lobbied the city council to defeat a proposal to permit pot smoking in bars or restaurants — fearing it would lead to private cannabis clubs.
The police have also pounced on entrepreneurs who push things too far. In late 2015 they arrested Nicholas “Kush God” Cunningham, who had deployed a fleet of cars covered in marijuana-leaf decals that would hand out pot edibles in exchange for “donations.”
“I’m surprised they didn’t bring him in sooner,” said Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project. “He was clearly getting remuneration for a product and being very flashy about it.”
Police maintain that the gift loophole isn’t fooling anyone.
“In our estimation, that’s still illegal,” said Lt. Andrew Struhar of the Narcotics and Special Operations division of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department.
But Struhar also admitted that police aren’t “actively out hunting” for marijuana violators as long as everything stays low-key and the neighbors don’t complain.
“We serve the citizens and if they say there’s a problem on this or that block, we’re going to do something about it,” he said. “If you’re going to flaunt it and you’re going to stick it in our face and force us to take action against it, then we’re going to take action.”
For now the model seems to be staggering along, but its’s debatable how long this can continue. Legalization activists say that a quasi-legal grey area was never their goal.
Members of the District’s government are even less enthusiastic; they complain about the intrusiveness of the congressional oversight and point to a study which estimated $130 million in potential annual revenue from taxing marijuana sales.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable,” said City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. “We have legal marijuana but we can’t regulate it. It’s stupid, it’s just stupid.”
© 2017 Associated Press