Pedestrian fatalities jump in states with legalized marijuana


States with legalized pot have seen a troubling ­increase in car crashes killing pedestrians, highway researchers say, bolstering concerns in Massachusetts that the new marijuana law could mean more dangerous streets here.

Taken together, seven states and Washington, D.C. — all with legalized weed — saw a combined 16 percent jump in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017, while the other 43 states recorded an overall 6 percent ­decrease, according to a study released yesterday by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The pot states — Massachusetts, Alaska, Colorado, D.C., Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — had a total of 30 more pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2017 than the first half of 2016. While included in the legalization states, Massachusetts’ pedestrian deaths decreased by one to 33, and Maine’s number was flat.

The report’s authors — who also cited smartphone use as a factor — cautioned that their findings don’t show a definitive link between pot and pedestrian deaths but said the increase “provides an early look at potential traffic safety implications of increased access to recreational marijuana for drivers and pedestrians.”

Massachusetts has a high-profile pot-related road death case pending. David Njuguna is charged with motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of marijuana in the death of State Trooper Thomas Clardy. Prosecutors say Njuguna had bought four joints at a Brookline medical marijuana facility an hour earlier and had pot in his system when his car crossed several lanes and struck Clardy’s stopped cruiser.

Marijuana has been shown in studies to slow ­reaction time, degrade critical thinking skills and impair balance, among other effects that could make stoned drivers a threat to pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers. Critics have noted, in contrast to alcohol and breath-testing ­devices, that police lack tools to specifically measure cannabis impairment and have to rely on subjective observations.

A researcher working on marijuana testing methods said the state’s lack of dedicated funds for driving enforcement and the low ratio of officers trained in drug recognition could take a toll.

“Massachusetts is going to have it the worst of any state regarding marijuana-impaired driving,” said ­Denise Valenti of Impairment Measurement Marijuana and Driving, whose research found some people high on pot registered on eye exams like people who are legally blind. “We did not expect such dramatic results. We thought based on what we had found based on my Parkinson’s research was a generalized slowing of the visual system, a generalized dysfunction. We did not expect to find total dead spots.”

Legal marijuana has been shown to increase insurance claims for fender benders by 3 percent compared to surrounding non-legalization states, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said, “Based on what we know so far, marijuana legalization is not good news for highway safety.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said the dangers of pot-impaired driving, in part, prompted state officials to press regulators to delay licensing for marijuana cafes.

“The fact that the Cannabis Control Commission made the decision to go a little slower on its rollout and focus on coming out of the gate strictly on dispensaries and limiting the activity to begin with is a good example of how we need to think about this,” Baker said yesterday.

Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said, “We are committed to doing everything possible to enhance public safety. There is no question it is a concern of ours.”

Matt Stout contributed to this story.



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Nevada’s recreational pot sales on pace to exceed prediction






LAS VEGAS – Nevada’s recreational marijuana industry is on pace to reach $60 million in its first year, exceeding the state’s projection of $50 million.

Channel 8’s sister station, KTVN-TV, reported Tuesday that if revenue from pot sales continues at this pace, it will leave extra money for the budget.

Will Adler, Director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, said the industry is fitting quite well into the state’ economy.

The tax money the industry brings in goes to different places. Most of the 10 percent retail tax revenue goes to the state’s rainy day fund, while the 15 percent wholesale tax helps fund the Department of Taxation, local jurisdictions and education.

The Legislative Commission has approved permanent regulations for recreational marijuana sales, so the industry’s money will soon begin to be distributed.
 



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DOPE on the Road | Las Vegas: No Ordinary City


The flight from Seattle to Las Vegas, Nevada, was a short one; I had made the trip over a dozen times in the last year, but one was standing out in my head above the others. Vegas had become something of a mecca for cannabis trade shows, and there seemed to be a new industry event popping up in Sin City every other month.

In spite of its apparent liberal leanings, Nevada’s approach to cannabis had been notoriously conservative in the past. Possessing even a tenth of a gram would catch you a felony in the state until November of 2000 when medical use for chronically ill patients was approved, setting the groundwork for full recreational adult use on January 1, 2017.

I came here for funding three years ago when my own cannabis business was beginning to take off. I had started a lifestyle brand based around the dabbing scene that was coming online in 2012; the medical market was already in full swing on the West Coast and starting to produce its own cannabis rockstars. I jokingly dubbed them Dabstars and began posting mugshot-style photos with small biographies for captions to our social media. Before I knew it, we were touring the country and reaching millions of cannabis enthusiasts each week.

The plane screeched to a landing at McCarran International airport, jolting me from my thoughts. Duane Woods and Nick Woodward of Ekho Solutions greeted me at the terminal. They had started as liquor reps for Jesse James Bourbon, and we’d spent some wild times on the road together in the past. The boys lit up a pair of oversized joints and began passing them around the car.

I grimaced as we passed the Wynn. It was here that I met our New York investors for the first time. They had flown me out in style, picking me up in a limousine and renting the top floor of the luxury hotel. An attempt at shock and awe, which had admittedly worked on this small town boy from the mountains of Colorado. What followed was an unparalleled weekend of drugs and debauchery not fit for print in any magazine worth its ink. Suffice it to say, I nearly lost everything that trip and ended up rohypnoled and broke with a $10,000 hospital bill for my troubles. The whole thing had left me with a kind of Vegas PTSD that still had not worn off in the years since…

A client scored us a suite at Treasure Island and we headed up to cover the smoke detectors for a quick dab sesh before heading out into the streets. This was a work trip, but you wouldn’t know it from the look of us. Cannabis was not for the Harvard MBA—these were normal, red-blooded Americans who saw cannabis as their last real chance at the American dream.

The federal government had allowed the cannabis industry to flourish under the Obama administration, even enacting federal protections for states with cannabis laws on the books. These protections would later be altered by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, further muddying the waters.

The Thin Line Between Nixon and Trump
The Thin Line Between Nixon and Trump

The mixed legal environment makes it tricky for up-and-coming brands looking to branch out of their home states and onto the national scene. Federal laws still prohibit and harshly punish interstate trafficking, ultimately reducing the industry to regional factions, with each legal state boasting a handful of breakout brands. Nevada was a new slice in the pie and many of these brands now found themselves in Las Vegas, entrenched in backdoor negotiations with those lucky enough to have scored a license to produce in the state.

Vegas itself is no ordinary city. Annual revenue here exceeded 25 billion dollars in 2016, catering to a staggering 40 million tourists each year. For an up-and-coming cannabis brand looking to be the next Coke or Pepsi, Vegas is a chance to expose their product to a national market.

Founded in 1905 from the deserts of what once was Mexico, Las Vegas sprang to life as a small water stop on the trade routes from Mexico to California. It was not until 1931—when construction began on the Hoover Dam, thus quadrupling the population in Las Vegas proper—the true makings of a city would emerge. Recognizing the potential to cash in, Nevada legislators reversed their previously conservative stances, passing a bill to legalize gambling that same year and giving birth to the Vegas we know today.

DOPE on the ROAD: Las Vegas
Cannabis Industry Projected to Generate $40 Billion in 2021

Here we were, decades later, and Nevada is cashing in again, clearing a cool 3.7 million in revenue during the first month of recreational cannabis sales. This nearly doubles Colorado’s first month of revenue, while covering a population gap of more than 3.5 million people and an insatiable tourist market.

I woke up early day two, shaking off the previous night’s festivities in the oversized, cascade-style shower, the endless supply of hot water slowly bringing me back to life. Hailing a cab I arrived at Essence, one of the dozen or so dispensaries now licensed in the area. A small sign split the line into medical and recreational customers and I took my place behind a group of tourists buying legal cannabis for their first time. Smiling, I spotted a few standouts in the display case. Vegas had its share of homegrown cannabis brands, but I was surprised to see some familiar West Coast brands alongside the locals.

For the forward-thinking cannabis entrepreneur, the map was beginning to look a lot like a chess board, and Vegas was beginning to look like the golden goose—a chance to reach a broader market in an industry wracked with growing pains and stifled by regional restrictions.

Whatever the future would be, the momentum seems unstoppable: Cannabis is here to stay, and (for now) the people who made it possible still have a stake in the game. This was always an industry of believers, and as I took once more for the skies towards Seattle, I was proud to count myself among them.

Next stop, Hawaii…


dabstars.com | Instagram: @jonah_tacoma


 



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A corporate takeover of legal weed looms in California — High Country News


Thousands of small-scale marijuana growers could be replaced by Big Ag.

 

Desdemona Dallas is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. A writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, she learned about the cannabis industry while living in Nevada City, California, a hotspot for cultivating pot.


On Jan. 1, weed aficionados in California were finally able to do what they say they’ve always wanted — legally buy marijuana, no prescription required. But small farmers who had been selling on the black market were not uniformly delighted by the change.

For decades, the illegal weed industry has been a lucrative industry. Then came increasing legalization that created its own boom: In the United States, the total medical and recreational market for pot is expected to hit $2.6 billion in revenue this year, reports the Financial Times. Nine states have now legalized recreational sales, and 29 states have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado alone recorded nearly $4.5 billion in sales since recreational stores opened on Jan 1, 2014.

But many small farmers in California worry about this new world of legal pot. They’ve been the backbone of the industry through the drug-war years of heavy enforcement and heavy penalties, and they know all too well what it’s like to live as outlaws. They now fear that big agriculture will take over the industry that some of them pioneered and worked in for generations.

Under Proposition 64, also called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, after Jan. 1, 2023, there will be no state cap in California on the size or production amount of marijuana farms. David Bienenstock, former editor of High Times Magazine, fears that this lack of a size limit invites consolidation by corporations with deep pockets. What he’d much rather see are “as many small, sustainable, eco-friendly farms as possible.”

Right now, there are an estimated 50,000 cannabis farms in the state of California. These farms are run by everything from multi-generation families who have worked the same land for decades, to recently formed groups of tech-industry dropouts. It’s no secret that people have flocked to the California hills over the last decade to join what is being called the new California “green rush.”

The black market has allowed growers to earn an exorbitant amount of tax-free wages without ever having to build a business profile or work within legal systems. For many, one of the major draws of the marijuana-farming lifestyle has always been its freedom from government oversight and pesky regulations. But going legal now means paying licensing fees and taxes and wading through paperwork just like any other businessperson.


Marijuana leaves are scattered on the floor where a black-market grower trims new plants.

Brooke Warren

Jonathan Collier, a director of the Cal Growers Association, lives in Nevada County, home to over 4,000 marijuana farms. He’s lobbied hard to get black-market growers in his area to come out of the shadows and capitalize on being legal. He tells small pot farmers that they can do well if they decide to “position themselves in the artisanal market, establishing branding and higher-quality processes.”

But Collier said many successful marijuana farmers don’t want to go legal because they’ve got “millionaire blinders.” Rather than accept a reasonable income as a legal pot farmer, some want to stay in the background and just keep doing what they’re doing, under cover.

Many of the newly legal growers have joined cooperatives to help process and market their marijuana. The distribution cooperative Allegria, based in Nevada City, north of Sacramento, helps farmers bring their individualized product to consumers. Executive director Michelle Carroll makes this analogy, “People will pay more for craft beer. We go to farmers markets in San Francisco twice a month, and we get to deal face-to-face with the consumers (who) want the best product.”

Allegria, which has strict policies against the use of pesticides, has assembled a group of growers who sell direct to a distributor, who then focuses on branding and sales. This allows farmers to concentrate on quality control. “We feel like if we all work together, we will get to a better place,” Carroll said.

“Durban poison,” “strawberry cough,” and “super silver haze” — these are a few of the names buyers will find at dispensaries these days. At the moment, organic and inorganic marijuana seem fairly similar in quality. In some dispensaries, organic marijuana is sold for an even lower price than its inorganic counterpart. Most consumers I’ve talked to say they’re interested in smoking designer, high-end strains; they don’t particularly care about sourcing and growing practices. But this may change as big agriculture starts to move into the business.

As more states legalize the weed industry and corporate consolidation changes the market, only knowledgeable consumers will be able to keep small, boutique farms alive. That means the once-illegal folks on heritage farms have the chance to change the future of cannabis — if they can step out of the black-market they grew up in.

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you’d like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].



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Sales of Legal Cannabis Products Continues to Accelerate


According to a report by Hexa Research, the U.S. medical cannabis market is projected to reach $19.48 billion by 2024. The anticipated growth is driven by the intensifying acceptance of medical advantages associated with cannabis, particularly for patients dealing with cancer, diabetes and chronic pain. Symptoms and conditions that may be treated with cannabis products include, cancer, HIV, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Chronic pain accounted for 46 percent of the U.S. cannabis medical market share in 2016. According to the research, the solid cannabis edibles segment in 2016, within the U.S. market generated $2.47 billion in revenue and is expected to continue to dominate the cannabis industry to 2024. Micron Waste Technologies Inc. (OTC: MICWF), Freedom Leaf, Inc. (OTC: FRLF), mCig, Inc. (OTC: MCIG), GB Sciences, Inc. (OTC: GBLX), United Cannabis Corporation (OTC: CNAB)

The growing cannabis market is expected to have positive economic benefits, such as creating more jobs and generating tax revenue. According to MG News, Vivien Azer of Cowen & Co. said in a report: “When you consider ancillaries such as growers, testing labs, security, etc., the economic impact could range from $12.7 to $22.6 billion. Of note, these numbers do not include the impact of tourism, business taxes, licensing fees and paraphernalia sales, which could drive the economic impact higher.”

Micron Waste Technologies Inc. (OTC: MICWF) also listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange under the Ticker ‘MWM’. Earlier today Micron Waste Technologies announced breaking news that, “the Company has engaged the services of renowned engineering consultancy, BC Research Inc. to accelerate the commercialization process of its waste digester technology for the cannabis industry.

Micron has developed a new technology, based on aerobic digestion and subsequent treatment, that converts organic waste into clean water that meets municipal effluent discharge standards. The effluent from currently available digester-based treatment systems of organic waste does not meet municipal discharge standards and requires costly further treatment. Many organizations that generate organic waste currently use municipal landfill sites for their organic waste, which is costly and has a negative impact on the environment. The merits of Micron’s technology have been successfully demonstrated with a grocery supermarket chain located in British Columbia, Canada, and Micron has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the group to plan for additional installation of Micron’s organic waste digester units at other locations in BC.

Per the Company’s press releases of January 15, 2018 and December 19, 2017, Micron has completed a strategic partnership with Aurora Cannabis for the optimization of the Company’s technology for the cannabis industry. The companies are currently progressing well with the preliminary research towards the installation of the first unit at one of Aurora’s cultivation facilities, anticipated for the second calendar quarter of 2018.

Micron has now engaged the services of renowned engineering consultancy BC Research, which has a strong track record in helping commercialize new technologies. BC Research, which predominantly works with large enterprises on process research, custom engineering, pilot plant services, also provides access to a vertically integrated technology development and commercialization ecosystem.

The work with BC Research, which is conducted in parallel with the Aurora Project, serves to deliver a unit that functions in a broad temperature range, making it suitable for deployment on a global scale in wide range of climates. Furthermore, leveraging BC Research`s deep expertise in commercializing technologies, the project aims to develop a digester unit suitable for mass production.

The new unit, which will form the blue print for subsequent commercial units, will be installed at one of Aurora Cannabis’s cultivation facilities for validation in this particular industry. Micron therefore anticipates accelerating time to market for its technology, enabling the Company to commence penetration of the cannabis sector. The optimization for temperature range will significantly increase the marketability of the technology to a range of other industries.”

“We are extremely pleased to be working with BC Research and Aurora Cannabis to develop a market-ready Micron Cannabis Waste Digester,” said Rav Mlait, CEO. “The enhanced features requested by our clients are anticipated to accelerate commercial adoption and make Micron’s technology more attractive to cannabis producers seeking a less costly, more convenient, and “greener” means of handling organic waste. We anticipate that the results from our efforts with Aurora Cannabis will not only accelerate our entry into this sector, but allow us to leverage the results to develop access to large new markets.”

“We are excited to be part of this project. The potential applicability of Micron’s technology to a wide range of industrial challenges makes it an attractive reason for our organization to be engaged. Tackling some of the cannabis cultivation industry’s needs is an example of where the technology may fit well, and it provides another opportunity to demonstrate the technology in a very different industrial application.”, stated Sergio Berretta, vice president and COO at BC Research. “We look forward to bringing our expertise in commercializing new technologies to the Aurora-Micron project, and are excited about the broader potential of the Micron Waste Digester.”

Freedom Leaf, Inc. (OTCQB: FRLF) is a leading, go-to resource in the cannabis, medical and recreational marijuana, CBD and industrial hemp industries. On January 31, 2018, the company announced a joint venture supply partnership with NutraFuels, Inc. Freedom Leaf CEO Cliff Perry announced, “We have created a strong relationship with NutraFuels as they assisted us in the formulation, blending and private labeling our Ayurvedic Breathable Vapor Oils that are the flagship product in our Hempology ® line of Full Spectrum Whole-Plant Hemp Extracts.”

mCig, Inc. (OTCQB: MCIG) is a diversified company servicing the legal cannabis, hemp and CBD markets. mCig, Inc. is committed to being the leading distributor of technology, products, and services to fit the needs of a rapidly expanding industry. On January 29, 2018, the company has announced plans to launch an innovatively advanced hemp CBD-based formula for pets. The decision to expand into the pet products industry was based on extensive research conducted on customer and supplier inquiries. Comparison of research on how cannabinoids (including CBD) affects the human and animal body has shown that their effects share close similarities in interaction with endocannabinoid system (ECS). Dogs and Cats were specifically found to share up to 70% biological homology with humans. Highly promising scientific conclusions indicate that CBD interacts in a similar way in canines and felines as it does in humans. Specifically, cannabinoid binding to ECS receptors within the dog and cat body can provide a longer lasting therapeutic effect without a risk of toxicity.

GB Sciences, Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) is a diverse cannabis company, focused on standardized cultivation and production methods; as well as biopharmaceutical research and development. Recently, the company has been issued its production license and now begins full production operations in the Las Vegas, Nevada facility. Production license partners include Relax With Happy™ (“RWH”), a new venture co-founded by veteran cannabis chef, Deliciously Dee™, and Cura Cannabis Solutions, maker of the best-selling cannabis brand on the West Coast, Select Oil. Given already announced contractual arrangements with those production partners, operations are expected to generate significant monthly free cash flow after a ramp up period of approximately two months.

United Cannabis Corporation (OTCQB: CNAB) is a biotechnology company dedicated to the development of phyto-therapeutic based products supported by patented technologies for the pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial markets. The Company has long advocated the application of cannabinoids for medical applications and is building a platform for designing targeted therapies to increase the quality of life for patients around the world. On February 15, 2018, the company announced that Jamaica’s Ministry of Health has approved its entire patent-protected Prana collection for use by registered medicinal cannabis patients. The Prana Collection is the foundation of the Company’s cannabis-centric formulations, which patients have found effective in helping manage the symptoms of arthritis, neuropathy, acute pain, joint aches, muscle tension, muscle spasms, muscle recovery, migraines, and various skin conditions.

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Nevada Makes $30 Million In Marijuana Taxes During First Six Months Of Sales


  1. Nevada Makes $30 Million In Marijuana Taxes During First Six Months Of Sales  Forbes
  2. Airport ‘amnesty boxes’ for weed? Denver International Airport doesn’t see the need  The Cannabist
  3. THE LEGALISATION OF MARIJUANA IN LAS VEGAS  Daily Mail
  4. Full coverage



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Las Vegas airport installs dustbins for marijuana


Las Vegas airport has installed dustbins outside the terminal building so passengers can get rid of their legal marijuana before taking their flight.

Tourists leaving Sin City can now dump their leftover legal drugs in metal containers set up at the McCarran International airport.

The ten green bins dubbed ‘amnesty boxes’ prevent federal transportation agents from finding pot on passengers during security screenings.

Tourists catching a flight out of Las Vegas can now dump their leftover legal marijuana in metal containers set up at the airport

Tourists catching a flight out of Las Vegas can now dump their leftover legal marijuana in metal containers set up at the airport

Tourists catching a flight out of Las Vegas can now dump their leftover legal marijuana in metal containers set up at the airport

 The dustbins are bolted to the ground and designed so marijuana and prescription drugs can only be dropped in, not taken out

 The dustbins are bolted to the ground and designed so marijuana and prescription drugs can only be dropped in, not taken out

 The dustbins are bolted to the ground and designed so marijuana and prescription drugs can only be dropped in, not taken out

The drug is legal in Nevada but still banned by federal law under the U.S. government.

The containers were installed last week following a county ban on marijuana possession and advertising at the airport, aiming to keep it in compliance with federal law.

They are bolted to the ground and designed so marijuana and prescription drugs can only be dropped in, not taken out.

Airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said: ‘The amnesty boxes are offered as a way to help people comply with this ordinance.’ 

In the summer of 2017 Nevada became the fifth state in the US to make selling recreational marijuana legal and fans of the drug came out in force

In the summer of 2017 Nevada became the fifth state in the US to make selling recreational marijuana legal and fans of the drug came out in force

In the summer of 2017 Nevada became the fifth state in the US to make selling recreational marijuana legal and fans of the drug came out in force

Transportation Security Administration agents normally hand over marijuana-related cases to local law enforcement. 

THE LEGALISATION OF MARIJUANA IN LAS VEGAS 

In the summer of 2017, Nevada became the fifth state in the US to make selling recreational marijuana legal.

Millions of tourists visiting Sin City are expected to make nearly two of every three purchases from marijuana retailers.

Some in the industry have said Vegas – which attracts more than 42 million tourists annually – will become the ‘mecca for marijuana’ overtaking the likes of Amsterdam in Holland as the world capital of cannabis.

Anyone aged 21 or over can now buy up to an ounce of pot at a time in Nevada – joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in changing the law.

Customers can only use the marijuana they buy in the privacy of their own home though, with a $600 fine still in place for those caught smoking pot in public or while driving a vehicle.   

While anyone who is 21 with a valid ID can snap up an ounce of pot or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates, they’ll have to bring cash.

Virtually no banks will take on accounts from marijuana companies, which means the industry is entirely cash-based.

Las Vegas police officer Aden Ocampo-Gomez said no citations have been issued stemming from the airport’s ban on marijuana possession and advertising, passed in September.

However, the boxes are something travellers may have seen before – at least two airports in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is also legal, offer amnesty boxes.

But they’re likely to be a bigger draw at the Las Vegas airport, which saw 48.5 million passengers last year. 

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in the state on July 1, and they have exceeded expectations.

That’s despite a ban on consuming it in public, including on the Las Vegas Strip and in hotels and casinos. 

Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot and use it only in private homes.

The airport boxes display Clark County’s ordinance and are clearly marked, with a black, bold font stating: ‘Disposal for Prescription and Recreational Drugs.’ They contrast sharply with nearby trash cans.

A contractor, not police, will initially empty the boxes multiple times per week and then adjust the schedule as usage patterns develop.

Crews said the county aviation department plans to install 20 bins but could add more. 

In addition to the boxes placed outside the airport on Friday, three were set up at the nearby car rental facility.

The remaining seven bins will be installed at smaller area airports and other department-owned properties.



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Nevada’s Recreational Marijuana Market Approached $200M Last Year


Despite only kicking off in July, Nevada’s recreational marijuana industry sold nearly $200 million worth of the plant last year.

That’s according to figures released Friday by the Nevada Department of Taxation, per a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Those sales generated more than $30 million in tax revenue for the Silver State.

In Nevada, there’s a 15 percent wholesale tax, paid by both medical and adult-use (recreational) cultivators, as well as a 10 percent retail tax on recreational sales. The state also generates money from licensing fees paid by businesses in the space.

Recreational marijuana sales started in Nevada on July 1, 2017, during the middle of the annual World Series of Poker, a major tourist draw during the slower summer months.

Nevada still has a ways to go before catching up to Colorado’s market, which has grown to more than $1 billion annually, according to the Review-Journal.

Before the industry launched in the Silver State, the Department of Taxation received about 330 applications for recreational marijuana licenses. It issued 250 licenses statewide, which included more than 50 retail stores, 90 cultivation facilities, 65 product manufacturing facilities, 9 testing labs and more than 30 distributors.

More than 200 of those licenses were for Clark County, home to Las Vegas.

October’s sales of nearly $38 million have so far been the best month for the industry. Sales were $27 million during the first month, about double what Colorado had in its first month.

Thanks to the success of the industry, Nevada officials, including gaming regulators, are mulling over how gambling and weed can intersect. In November, the 12-member Nevada Gaming Policy Committee was revived to talk about the issue. The Committee is expected to meet again to continue the discussion. The situation was made even more complicated when earlier this year U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated he will follow through on trying to slow the industry’s growth.

Legal marijuana spend in the U.S. in 2016 grew 30 percent year-over-year to $6.7 billion, and sales could reach $30 billion by 2021, according to industry estimations.

In anticipation of potential legal marijuana in New Jersey, Atlantic City’s mayor recently visited Las Vegas to survey Sin City’s cannabis industry.

 

 

 



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Tribes cut out of California’s pot market might grow their own




American Indian tribes that say they have been cut out of California’s legal marijuana market have raised the possibility of going their own way by establishing pot businesses outside the state-regulated system that is less than two months old.

The tribes floated the idea of setting up rival farms and sales shops on reservations after concluding that rules requiring them to be licensed by the state would strip them of authority over their own lands and their right to self-governance.

The possibility of the tribes breaking away from the state-run system is one more challenge for California as it attempts to transform its longstanding medicinal and illegal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry.

For tribes to participate in the state-run market, “they have to give up their rights to act as governments, with regard to cannabis,” said Mark Levitan, a tribal attorney.

Marijuana dries in a special room in on January 1, 2018 at the Green Pearl Organics marijuana dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, California.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

At issue are legally thorny questions about who governs whom, taxation and the intersection of state marijuana laws with tribes that the federal government recognizes as sovereign nations within the U.S.

Under regulations issued last year, California would retain full control over licensing. Tribes would have to follow state rules, including “submission to all enforcement,” to obtain a license to grow or sell marijuana. Any application must include a waiver of “sovereign immunity,” a sort of legal firewall that protects tribal interests.

Without state licenses, businesses cannot take part in the legal state pot market. California has over 100 federally recognized tribes, the most of any state, and estimates of the number either growing and selling pot or eager to do so varies, from a handful to over 20.

Unlike those that have prospered from casino gambling, some are in struggling rural areas and would welcome a new source of cash to improve schools and pave roads.

Laura Torgerson and Ryan Sheehan, visiting from Arizona, smell cannabis buds at the Green Pearl Organics dispensary on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in California, January 1, 2018 in Desert Hot Springs, California.
Laura Torgerson and Ryan Sheehan, visiting from Arizona, smell cannabis buds at the Green Pearl Organics dispensary on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in California, January 1, 2018 in Desert Hot Springs, California.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

After long-running negotiations between tribes and state officials failed to produce an agreement before broad legal sales began Jan. 1, the California Native American Cannabis Association warned state officials that tribes “may engage in commercial cannabis activities through our own inherent sovereign authority.”

If tribes choose to step away from California’s market, “the state will have no jurisdiction to enforce its cannabis laws and regulations on tribal lands,” the group said in a sharply worded letter to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in December.

Tribes “just want to be able to do business in the state of California and elsewhere, just like anybody else,” said Paul Chavez, former chairman of the Bishop Paiute tribe.

The dispute in California differs from another legal pot state, Washington, where seven tribes have marijuana compacts with the state and others are in negotiations or awaiting the governor’s approval. The compacts allow tribal marijuana businesses to participate in the legal system, such as selling tribe-grown pot to retailers off the reservation.

A green cross indicating medical marijuana in the window at the Higher Path dispensary in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, California, December 27, 2017.
A green cross indicating medical marijuana in the window at the Higher Path dispensary in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, California, December 27, 2017.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

In California, the tribes are circulating a proposal that calls for the governor to strike agreements with them. Those pacts would allow them to participate in the legal market, while the state would recognize a tribe’s “exclusive authority” to regulate commercial marijuana activity on its lands.

Tribes are eager for a settlement, but reaching a deal in the Legislature could take the remainder of the year.

“Everyone agrees conceptually there should be an even playing field, a level playing field,” said state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat at the center of the negotiations in Sacramento.

In addition to the problems in Sacramento, tribes are facing uncertainty at the federal level.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the marijuana trade in states where the drug is legal, which also guided enforcement on tribal lands.

Agave plants are seen in desert mountains south of Palm Springs, California where agaves were harvested for the annual traditional agave roast on the Morongo Indian Reservation near Banning, California, April  11, 2015.
Agave plants are seen in desert mountains south of Palm Springs, California where agaves were harvested for the annual traditional agave roast on the Morongo Indian Reservation near Banning, California, April 11, 2015.

DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images

The shifting ground has put a chill over development plans — including in an isolated stretch of eastern San Diego County.

Nevada-based GB Sciences Inc. announced last year that it would build and manage a commercial cannabis company on tribal lands, nurturing plants, manufacturing products and distributing them across the state.

The tribe, the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, would get an ownership stake, jobs and 40 percent of the profits. GB Sciences would get income for its marijuana research and a foothold in the largest legal pot market in the U.S.

But the projected $8 million project is on hold, with the status of tribes in the pot market unclear.

Issues involving sovereignty touch a sensitive subject for tribes, and they see the predicament with marijuana as part of a history of exploitation.

The state rule “harkens back to the end of the 19th century … when federal and state policies favored extermination or forced assimilation of California tribes,” the tribal group wrote.

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Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle and Kathleen Foody in Denver contributed to this report.



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Las Vegas morning update for Sunday, February 25th



Sunday’s headlines: Man injured after falling from escalator in downtown Las Vegas, Pot amnesty boxes greet travelers at Las Vegas airport (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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