Tourism officials wrestle with pot marketing | News



BOSTON — Legal marijuana in Massachusetts is expected to draw visitors from states where the drug remains illegal, providing a major boost to the tourism industry from users apt to spend money in hotels, restaurants and other retail outlets.

But whether state tourism officials will promote the budding, multimillion-dollar industry remains to be seen. 

At present, there are no restrictions on using state tourism dollars to market marijuana businesses.

Draft regulations approved two weeks ago by the Cannabis Control Commission focus only on restricting the marketing of retail pot businesses to underage users. 

But the state’s 16 regional tourism councils are starting to discuss how to handle a new industry that could become a major draw.

Ann Marie Casey, executive director of the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it’s become a hot topic. The regional council’s leaders plan to convene a panel to discuss the issue and how it relates to the region’s overall marketing plans.

“It’s definitely something that’s on our radar,” said Casey, who noted that the regional council’s board of directors will ultimately decide how to proceed.

For now, the visitors bureau plans to continue its focus on selling the region for its open space, arts, culture and entertainment.

“We have so many natural assets, beautiful museums, restaurants and other attractions, and we’ll continue to market that,” she said. “But I do not know if we’re going to be actively marketing recreational use of marijuana.”

The state Office of Travel and Tourism, which oversees the regional councils, declined to comment for this story. 

Already a major destination

Tourism is the state’s third-largest industry. Visitors generate about $20.2 billion a year, including $1.3 billion in taxes.

The industry employs 135,000 people and pays $4.4 billion in wages, according to the state Office of Travel and Tourism.

The state gets more than 25 million visitors a year from within the U.S. and another 2.5 million overseas.

Jim Borghesani of the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that backed legal weed, says it would be unfair for state tourism officials to continue to promote businesses that sell alcoholic beverages while turning a cold shoulder to marijuana marketing.

The state’s official tourism website, for example, enthusiastically promotes wineries, cider houses, micro-breweries and mom-and-pop distilleries that make vodka and other alcoholic beverages. 

“There’s nothing preventing state tourism dollars for cannabis tourism promotion,” Borghesani said. “Frankly, it would be hypocritical of them not to promote it.”

That seems unlikely under the Baker administration, however, despite tens of millions of dollars in anticipated tax revenue from retail sales, scheduled to begin later this year.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Swampscott Republican, firmly opposed legalization and actively campaigned against Question 4, which was approved by voters in 2016.

“I honestly don’t expect strong leadership from the state’s tourism officials, and it will probably be a while before the state moves forward with any expenditures on this,” said Borghesani. “The politicians and elected officials have traditionally been behind the general public when it comes support for legalization issues.” 

The state is also likely to face additional scrutiny following U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decision Thursday to rescind an Obama-era policy that kept the federal government from standing in the way of states that legalize weed.

It wasn’t immediately clear what that reversal will mean for the state’s new pot law. 

Massachusetts’ voter-approved law allows adults 21 and older to carry up to an ounce of marijuana in public and grow up to a dozen plants on their property.

It also permits retail sales and commercial growing.

Eight states and Washington, D.C. allow adult-use recreational marijuana; 29 states have approved medical marijuana programs.

Marijuana remains on the federal government’s list of controlled substances, however.

Marketing elsewhere

Other states where pot is legal have also taken a wait-and-see approach to marketing the industry.

In Colorado, which legalized weed in 2012, the state has seen a massive influx of tourists who’ve contributed to retail sales of more than $1.3 billion a year. Tours are bringing busloads of visitors from as far away as Florida and Texas to shop at hundreds of dispensaries in the state. 

Still, state tourism officials say they cannot promote the industry, citing restrictions in Colorado’s adult-use law and the fact marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Tourism officials in Nevada, the most recent state to legalize pot, don’t appear to be shrugging off the potential impact of the new industry. They’re conducting market research over the next year to determine whether to incorporate marijuana commerce into marketing for Las Vegas and other destinations. 

In Massachusetts, rules for the new industry are still taking shape, as state officials prepare for the advent of retail pot shops in July.

Two weeks ago, the state’s five-member Cannabis Control Commission adopted draft rules that limit marijuana advertising on public property, ban marketing designed to appeal to minors, and set strict requirements for retailers marketing their marijuana products.

Direct advertising using television, radio, internet or other electronic communication, billboard or other outdoor advertising, or print publications, will be banned unless marketers can prove that “at least 85 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.”

The regulations are not final and can be amended or changed before they go into effect in March, according to the commission.    

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has already extended rules that ban tobacco ads at MBTA stations, buses, subway cars and trains to include advertising that “promotes the sale, use or cultivation of marijuana or marijuana-related products.”

Borghesani said tourism officials “would be remiss” if they didn’t consider the potential benefits of promoting the state as a destination for pot tourists. 

He expects Beacon Hill policymakers will warm to the idea when they begin see revenue from retail sales and the influx of visitors.

“It’s going to take some time, and there’s still a lot of stigma,” he said. “But I think once politicians see the revenue, it will completely change the discussion.” 

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at


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Butt out, feds: Nevada voters have spoken on legal marijuana

So much for Donald Trump’s claim to be a supporter of states’ rights. He’s a pick-and-choose advocate at best, as proven when Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that allowed for the growth of the legal marijuana industry.

What’s pro state’s-rights about threatening an industry that’s been legalized in more than half of the country — 29 states, to be exact?

Yet that’s exactly what the administration’s move last week threatens to do. By giving U.S. attorneys discretion over whether to crack down on the legal marijuana industries in their states, Sessions and Trump started a process that could lead to greater federal government control over Nevada and other states where voters have approved legalization of marijuana.

Someone should remind Trump what he said about marijuana during an October 2015 campaign stop in Northern Nevada.

“The marijuana thing is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so,” he said. “And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. It should be a state situation … but I believe that the legalization of marijuana — other than for medical because I think medical, you know I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them — … but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”

So way back then — all of 14½ months ago — Trump seemed have a different take.

That happened to be the right one.

The majority of Americans long ago came to believe that federal laws and policies related to marijuana were outdated. So once a couple of states pioneered their way toward legalization, others quickly caught on. That includes in Nevada, where sales of recreational marijuana have outpaced projections.

Sessions’ attitude about the drug — which he immortalized with his 2016 statement “good people don’t smoke marijuana” — is so out of touch that it belongs in “Reefer Madness,” not in 21st century American politics.

Sessions can be as pious as he wants, but a lot of good Americans not only smoke marijuana but realize that the nation’s long-standing ban on the drug has not curtailed its availability or, as evidenced by the fact that legal sales have gotten off to a roaring start, its popularity. Not only that, but many good Americans have recognized that the nation’s marijuana laws are a shameful example of institutionalized, systematic racism, given that they have resulted in a disproportionate number of blacks being arrested and punished for crimes involving the drug.

Enter the legalized marijuana industry, which offered a constructive way to battle the drug cartels, generate tax revenue for the betterment of public schools and other governmental operations, provide medical relief and decriminalize use of a substance that millions of Americans from across the socio-economic spectrum were enjoying recreationally despite it being illegal at the federal level.

To their credit, several Nevada leaders reacted to Sessions with a roar of disapproval.

“I will fight for businesses that are legally operating in states, contributing to tax bases, & creating jobs,” Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., tweeted. “We don’t need a crackdown. We need to protect states’ rights, respect the voice of voters, and pass laws to prevent this from happening again.”

Others offered more measured responses. Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a candidate for governor, said he opposed legalization of recreational marijuana but had pledged to defend it were it approved by voters.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said: “Knowing Attorney General Sessions’ deference to states’ rights, I strongly encourage the (Department of Justice) to meet with Governor (Brian) Sandoval and Attorney General Laxalt to discuss the implications of changes to federal marijuana policy,” he said.

It’s worth stressing to Nevada leaders, Republican or Democrat: The voters in this state have spoken, and they support the industry. That being the case, their elected representatives need to fight for it.

They also need to battle for the medical marijuana patients who have begun buying the drug to ease the pain of cancer treatment, contend with opioid addiction and deal with a wide range of maladies.

Taking away the drug from those individuals isn’t just senseless, it’s cruel.

It’s little surprise that Trump, who was willing to deny health insurance to children, would attack adults who need medical marijuana.

Trump lied on the campaign trail, and with this move is dancing on the end of a string pulled by a few wealthy donors who want marijuana attacked.

That being the case, there will probably be no choice but to address the issue through the courts should a crackdown occur, and by pressuring Congress to finally reform the nation’s archaic marijuana laws.

What can’t happen is for Nevada leaders to let Sessions and Trump lift one finger against the state’s legal marijuana industry without a fight.

Editor’s note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary.

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Ely Shoshone tribe’s marijuana dispensary open for business | Lifestyles

ELY – Sitting south of Ely on the way to Las Vegas is a convenience store and truck stop on Ely Shoshone Tribal land. Located there is Tsaa Nesunkwa, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened in October and now also sells recreational marijuana.

Tsaa Nesunkwa (pronounced zaah nuh-soon-gwa) is now Elko’s closest marijuana dispensary, 188 miles south on U.S. Highway 93, although it does not show up on any online marijuana store maps or even the state’s posted list of stores.

It began selling medical marijuana Oct. 21 and started selling recreational products in early November. The dispensary’s grand opening was Dec. 2.

The dispensary is the second one of its kind on tribal land in the state. The Ely Shoshone Tribe and Yerington Paiute tribes entered into a compact with the governor to sell marijuana after Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 375 into law June 2.

The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe opened a 31-acre marketplace Oct. 16 on land purchased by the tribe.

Not just anyone can pull off the road and browse through the dispensary as though it were a tourist stop.

The dispensary is in the back of the convenience store. Although signs point to an unmarked door, new customers wander around the building a few times or ask a truck stop employee for directions.

Customers who step into the small lobby with six green chairs immediately see a small counter and partially open window. No one can enter the dispensary until proper identification and/or a medical marijuana card is produced.

Signs also inform people of a few additional facts about the dispensary: Only those over 21 with ID are permitted; no loitering; no consuming marijuana products on the premise; and cameras are watching everything.

After documents are checked, ID is verified by the employees, and the customer signs in, the solid white door is unlocked and access to the dispensary is granted with a loud voice that announces the front door has been opened.

Open seven days a week, customer flow is steady and lets up for about five minutes before another wave comes in, said owner Trent Griffith, an Ely Shoshone tribal member.

On the walls and in the display counters, items range from glass water pipes to vape cartridges to rolling papers to tinctures to edibles. Anything sold must be placed in childproof bags that are white on the outside and silver-lined inside.

“They are difficult to open,” Griffith said.

All products are labeled with the amounts of CBD – cannabidiol; CBG – cannabigerol; and THC – tetrahydrocannabinol. They are also tested for pesticides. Only organic plants must be used in producing products, said Griffith, adding that if the products do not pass the test, they cannot be sold and must be destroyed per Nevada state law.

“As far as I know, Nevada is one of the strictest for testing,” Griffith said.

He and his three employees help customers locate different products for their needs, especially those seeking treatment for ailments.

“We try to have what the people want,” Griffith said. For some customers, it is cannabis without the chemical that produces a high.

“CBD is non-psychoactive and works well for pain management,” Griffith said, showing products like Trokies and edibles such as gummies, chocolates, throat lozenges and mouth spray.

“A lot of people love Trokies because they’re so simple. You don’t smoke it,” Griffith explained, adding that some come in a ratio of 1-1 CBC to THC.

Because of the variety of medical conditions of customers, Griffith said he and his employees spend extra time working with them to find the right product.

“One thing may work for them, one thing may not. So you really have to pinpoint what will work. It’s almost like trial and error,” he said.

Griffith and his staff use a diagram in the shape of a wheel to help customers find their ailment and the type of cannabis terpenes needed to treat it.

“The medical patients are awesome about finding what works for them,” Griffith said. “Most of the ones we see suffer from cancer or surgery and have all kinds of medications [to take]. They’ve been able to ween themselves off medications with cannabis.”

Not just humans can find pain relief in medical cannabis. Dog treats with CBD are also sold for pets to treat anti-inflammatory effects, pain, tumors, spasms, seizures, aggression and anxiety.

“A lot of people love their pets and when they get old, they don’t move around as much as they used to,” Griffith said. “You don’t want to feed your pets THC because it’s not really good for them.”

Griffith said he sees the dispensary meeting more than one need in the community. The first is to provide a closer outlet for medical marijuana clients than Reno or Las Vegas.

“A lot of them are so happy because we’re here locally [or] you’d have to drive to Reno or Las Vegas,” Griffith said, noting that customers have to spend extra money to travel, stock up on their limit and risk breaking the law for transporting an illegal substance.

“We do have some good traffic from Elko,” Griffith said, explaining that because of the heavy customer flow, he did not have exact numbers.

“It’s easier to come here that it is Reno.”

Griffith said the dispensary also gives people an option to avoid black market marijuana, something he said can be dangerous for his medical clients.

“I had a medical patient come in and say they tried something from the street and they didn’t know what was in it,” Griffith said. “They said it must have been treated with chemicals or something. That’s not what they wanted, [and] they came back to us.”

Finally, Griffith said the dispensary gave the tribe the ability to raise money for language programs, something that is needed to provide the tribe’s youth “with a strong base.”

“In my opinion, the language and the culture go hand-in-hand … those programs will help the tribal youth have something to do.”

The concept of using the store’s name, which means “to feel good,” was to attach the Shoshone language to “something big, like the dispensary,” Griffith explained.

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When “nontribal members ask, ‘What does it mean?’ it gets the conversation going,” Griffith said.

Additionally, a portion of the tax revenue goes to the Boys and Girls Club. It was first offered to the City of Ely, which declined it. Griffith said he hopes the money will also benefit the youth of Ely.

“I’m hoping this store will help that program so we can help the greater community so they have something to do so they don’t turn to alcohol and drugs,” he said.

Griffith said the store was “well received” by Ely residents, adding that medical marijuana customers were the ones who were breaking the stigma of marijuana.

“The people suffering are using this as a medicine, and it’s working for them and that’s really the number one thing,” Griffith said.

One Shoshone tribal member, a recreational user who did not want to give his name, said he was supportive of the dispensary.

“It’s not hurting anyone as long as it’s monitored,” he said, adding that the store keeps children safe from street drugs.

“They don’t have to deal with criminals or drug dealers,” he said.

Another customer said he was from Elko and that he drives to Ely now to purchase medical marijuana for an ailing parent. He declined to give his name because his employer tests for marijuana, but said he wished Elko had a dispensary.

“It would be nice if one was in Elko,” he said. “The other closest dispensary is in Reno.”

Mark Caylor is a second-generation Ely resident and said he has no problem with the business.

“I don’t use it, but I think it’s great,” Caylor said. “I hope that we see a lot of good from the revenue … that it’s helping someone.”

Dany Feinstein said she has lived in Ely for eight years and said she saw friends and family harmed more by meth, heroin and alcohol than marijuana.

“I’ve seen more damage done by alcohol and drugs, but I haven’t seen damage by people smoking pot,” Feinstein said. “I don’t believe it causes harm.”

The dispensary is “something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime,” Feinstein said, adding that she supports medical marijuana and responsibility in using recreational marijuana.

“I’m not encouraging people to go out and smoke it,” Feinstein said, but “if someone wants to and they’re responsible.”

“We do have some good traffic from Elko. It’s easier to come here that it is Reno.” — Trent Griffith, owner

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Las Vegas capturing apparent selection in 2017’s Prime 10 information tales

People assist a wounded woman at the Tropicana during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal -year-old Brooke Patterson of Lomita, Calif. visits a makeshift memorial for her mother, Lisa Patterson, who was one of 58 people who died in the Oct. 1 shooting at a music festival, near the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal bullet hole marked as evidence on a fuel tank near the site of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The tank was struck by gunfire, October 1, 2017, when Strip shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire on festival-goers from his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal tanks near the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, were targeted by Strip shooter Stephen Paddock when he fired on concert-goers from his Mandalay Bay room Sunday night. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal Guerra shakes hands with Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak as she visits the cross of her cousin Melissa Ramirez at the Route 91 Harvest memorial at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal County Sheriff Joe Lombardo discusses the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting at the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-JournalClark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky speaks during the CCSD board meeting to approve the district’s final budget for the 2016-17 academic year at the Greer Education Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Jason Ogulnik/Las Vegas Review-JournalSupport staff stand as Guillermo Vazquez (not pictured) speaks during at the public comment period the Clark County School District board meeting to approve the district’s final budget for the 2016-17 academic year at the Greer Education Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Jason Ogulnik/Las Vegas Review-JournalBudtender Tom Nieves displays marijuana products to customers during the first day of recreational sales at Acres Cannabis in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal Orr works on making edible marijuana products in the kitchen area at Acres Cannabis during the first day of recreational sales in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal . Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, hands over cash to be the first customer to buy recreational marijuana at Reef Dispensaries in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal education will be available online to any Clark County high school student, according to a School Board approval of two new courses on Thursday. (Ronda Churchill/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Defendant Ammon Bundy hugs supporter Terry Noonkester outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, after a mistrial was declared in the Bunkerville standoff case. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal Bundy, from left, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Payne, Jeanette Finicum, Ryan Bundy, his wife, Angie, and his daughter, Jamie, walk out of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, after a mistrial was declared in the Bunkerville standoff case involving rancher Cliven Bundy. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal Bundy leaves the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Las Vegas. A federal judge in Las Vegas raised the prospect of a mistrial Monday for four main defendants, including Cliven Bundy, in the Bunkerville standoff case. Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal Bundy embraces his children outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, after being released from custody Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bundy’s trial related to a 2014 Bunkerville standoff will resume Dec. 11. Joel Angel Juarez Las Vegas Review-Journal .J. Simpson is spotted driving a white sports utility vehicle on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 in Las Vegas. Ron Kantowski Las Vegas Review-JournalFormer NFL football star O.J. Simpson attends his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel heist, successfully making his case in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America’s enduring fascination with the former football star. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool)La antigua leyenda del fútbol O.J. Simpson firma documentos en el Lovelock Correctional Center, el sábado 30 de septiembre de 2017, en Lovelock, Nevada. Simpson fue liberado del Lovelock Correctional Center en el norte de Nevada el domingo 1 de octubre de 2017. (Brooke Keast / Nevada Department of Corrections vía AP)District Judge Jennifer Togliatti speaks in a court hearing for death row inmate Scott Dozier, at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Dozier appeared in court by video. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal row inmate Scott Dozier appears before District Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing at the Regional Justice Center on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in downtown Las Vegas. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal Allyn Goodrich with the mannequin, a key piece of evidence in a recent and unusual attempted murder case, at the Metropolitan Police Department’s downtown Las Vegas substation on Friday, Sep. 1, 2017. Morgan Lieberman Las Vegas Review-JournalThe mannequin, a key piece of evidence in a recent and unusual attempted murder case, at the Metropolitan Police Department’s downtown Las Vegas substation on Friday, Sep. 1, 2017. Morgan Lieberman Las Vegas Review-JournalShane Schindler, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for an attack on a mannequin, attends his sentencing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Elizabeth Brumley Las Vegas Review-Journal

A deranged man with an arsenal pierced the heart of Las Vegas hospitality. In the process, he revealed the often-overlooked and undersold spirit of the community.

Without question, the horror and heroism of Oct. 1 were the biggest story of the year — maybe the biggest of any year in Las Vegas history. But it wasn’t the only thing that happened in 2017.

Valley schools battled budget cuts and scandal. An old vice became a new, homegrown source of revenue. And the engine of development sputtered back to life, stirring familiar conflicts over land use. Even Nevada’s most infamous rancher and most famous prison inmate found their way back into the headlines in 2017.

Here’s a look back at the 10 most important local stories of the year, as determined by the Review-Journal staff:

1. Oct. 1 shooting

It sounded like fireworks at first, so many in the crowd said. Then people started dropping, running, screaming. , the final night of the Route 91 Harvest festival, left 58 concertgoers dead and more than 500 people injured, several of whom will still be working toward a full recovery in 2018. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the community banded together. Three months later, many are still recovering — physically and emotionally.

2. CCSD budget woes

The Clark County School District uncovered a just before the school year began, forcing officials to scramble to identify cuts. Two months later, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky announced his retirement in a press conference that attacked the state’s chronic underfunding of education. Four rounds of budget cutting ultimately eliminated 277 central service positions and 262 school positions.

3. Recreational marijuana sales

kicked off July 1 with long lines of people buying cannabis legally for the first time without a medical card. A strong start only got stronger through the second half of 2017, with dispensaries across the state selling more than $126 million worth of adult-use marijuana through the first four months, generating roughly $19 million in new tax revenue for the state.

4. CCSD sexual misconduct arrests

As the 2016-17 school year unfolded, so did an alarming trend: The number of continued to rise. Experts detailed a systemwide crisis, with three primary contributing factors: a poor system of tracking employees who had been previously accused of sexual misconduct; state and district background checks that failed to check crucial information about potential applicants; and a lack of policies relating to social media or text-messaging for employee-student communications.

5. Bundy trials

In the midst of the third trial this year over an , a judge declared a mistrial for the main defendants in the case, including rancher Cliven Bundy. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled the federal government had improperly withheld evidence and set a new trial for early 2018. Many viewed the move as a sign of an unraveling government case against those who squared off against the Bureau of Land Management in April 2014.

6. O.J. released

After nearly nine years in prison, . Simpson, who had been serving time in Lovelock Correctional Center for a 2007 robbery conviction, was released in the early-morning hours of Oct. 1 after a unanimous vote from the Nevada Parole Commission. Since then, the 70-year-old former all-pro NFL running back and actor has been spotted around Summerlin at places like Grape Street Wine Bar and Golf Galaxy, apparently working on his golf game.

7. UNLV medical school

Nevada’s doctor shortage isn’t a new problem, but this year, Las Vegas welcomed what has been touted by local, state and university officials as a major part of the solution: its first allopathic medical school. UNLV opened the fledgling school July 17 with 60 students. School leaders hope — will eventually choose to stay and practice medicine in the state.

8. Scott Dozier’s death wish

Condemned killer Scott Dozier hoped to die in November after a judge signed his execution warrant. But federal public defenders representing him resisted the state’s execution protocol, arguing that a paralytic drug in the lethal injection cocktail could mask suffering, even though Dozier insisted he would not waver from his death wish. District Judge Jennifer Togliatti ultimately ordered , which would have been the first in Nevada since 2006.

9. Development battles

Developers’ plans to spread homes across open spaces ignited . Plans to develop a small segment of the closed Badlands golf course in Las Vegas dominated the Ward 2 City Council race won by political newcomer Steve Seroka. Other battles were waged over development plans for the closed Silverstone golf course in northwest Las Vegas, Legacy Golf Club in Henderson and Blue Diamond Hill near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

10. Mannequin decoy

Police trying to solve the slayings of two homeless men staged a scene to catch a perpetrator. They clothed a mannequin, wrapped it in a blanket and laid it on a downtown street corner, with hidden cameras aimed at the dummy. The ruse worked. One night in February, the unorthodox police work led to the arrest of 30-year-old Shane Schindler, who was seen attacking the mannequin with a hammer. Schindler ultimately and was sentenced to eight to 29 years behind bars.

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