Marijuana dispensaries raise funds for candidate who recently regulated them

Nevada Department of Taxation Director Deonne Contine.

Less than three weeks after the woman who regulated the industry left her job, a group representing marijuana dispensaries is hosting a fundraiser for her Assembly campaign.

The event for former Taxation Department Director Deonne Contine, set at a Las Vegas restaurant on Feb. 28, was promoted by the Nevada Dispensary Association trade group. The host committee includes owners and CEOs of some of the most prominent marijuana businesses in the state, including The Source, Essence and Oasis Cannabis.

“The Nevada Dispensary Association has a history of supporting candidates from both political parties and a wide variety of backgrounds. Members of the Association support those candidates they feel would serve Nevada’s citizens well,” Riana Durrett, executive director of the NDA, told The Nevada Independent. “Mrs. Contine has an impressive record of service to Nevada and our organization is proud to support her candidacy.”

Contine’s final day as taxation director was Feb. 9. Until then, she oversaw the agency that collects taxes from the dispensaries and can impose fines, revoke their licenses and approve applications for coveted new licenses.

She led the effort to set up regulations for recreational marijuana — a project finalized last month — and has been praised by national observers for getting sales going six months ahead of deadline while other states have struggled to stay on track.

She’s now a candidate for a Reno Assembly seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Amber Joiner, and has the endorsement of the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus.

In an interview with The Nevada Independent, Contine pushed back against any suggestion that her work as a marijuana regulator aimed to build goodwill among potential donors ahead of her campaign.

“I think that my record as a regulator speaks for itself. We had hundreds of public meetings about the regulations,” she said on Monday. “I try to balance the needs of the industry but … that’s always been secondary to the public health and safety.”

She said she only considered running after Joiner announced in late November that she wouldn’t seek re-election, told only a few people that she was jumping in ahead of her formal announcement and never solicited any campaign contributions until after she had left the agency.

“It’s a little insulting to me to think that my integrity as a regulator would be questioned like that and most people who have worked with me, I think, would speak to that,” she added.

Contine noted that she needed to get started on fundraising because the Democratic primary is in June, and the heavily Democratic district has already attracted several candidates.

Nevada lawmakers passed a bill in 2015 requiring a “cooling-off period” for lawmakers who leave office before they can start lobbying their former colleagues. It prohibits them from being a paid lobbyist from the date they leave office until the adjournment of the next regular session, but it says nothing about situations like Contine’s, in which a former regulator leaves to join the private sector and run for office.

Contine is taking a job in Reno with the law firm Kaempfer Crowell, which has worked with marijuana industry clients to file license applications and comply with regulations and whose roster includes Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell as a retired partner. She plans to work on issues including regulatory compliance and tax compliance, but said she would avoid working with clients on audits that were active before the taxation department while she was at the helm.

Contine said she’ll also follow the advice of counsel to avoid conflicts between her day job at the firm and bills that come before the part-time Legislature if she’s elected.

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Vapor oil seeks to help Las Vegas athletes with inflammation, relaxation

The+Source has introduced a new cannabidiol vapor oil called “Golden Night” — a play on the city’s hockey team — as a treatment for athletes who might suffer a variety of injuries.


Weekly Buzz: Bank robbery; Marijuana ordinance; Local pilot dies

From a bank robbery, to news of the county’s iconic National Hotel being sold, local news has been buzzing this past week.

Below is a recap of the 10 most read stories, from Feb. 12 – Feb. 18, that we saw at

10. Over the past several months, 72 cases of canine flu have been reported in California, according to Cornell University.

Canine flu cases rising in Northern California

9. Across the nation, the small family farm is in decline. But in Nevada County, there is a whole new generation that has taken up the mantle of organic farming and finding new and creative ways to make a go at this difficult, but rewarding, way of life.

The next generation of farming: AM Ranch, Super Tuber Farm team up

8. Nevada County supervisors opposed allowing commercial recreational marijuana grows, instead opting for medicinal commercial cultivation in specific zones that meet acreage requirements.

(VIDEO) Nevada County staff now prepped to write draft marijuana ordinance

7. A Sacramento man accused of forcing a former spouse into her vehicle and making her drive around Reno for a full day faces felony accusations in Truckee, authorities said.

Truckee police find kidnapping suspect at Donner Summit

6. This week’s most read police blotter featured a very scary moment for a local parent.

Nevada County Police Blotter: Woman, shopping for groceries, turns around to find cart and baby gone

5. A 71-year-old Oroville man facing a second-degree burglary charge remained Monday in the Nevada County Jail under $250,000 in bond, authorities said.

Nevada County authorities charge 71-year-old man with burglary

4. A memorial service for Burke is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City.

Nevada County Army pilot dies in helicopter crash

3. A Grass Valley couple faces weapons and drug accusations after local and federal officers descended Thursday on a Towle Lane home, authorities said.

Grass Valley couple faces federal gun charges, local drug accusations

2. Nevada City’s most visible landmark, the National Hotel, has been sold.

Nevada City’s iconic National Hotel sold

1. Grass Valley police are searching for a suspect in last week’s robbery of the Bank of 
the West on Brunswick Road.

UPDATE: Authorities respond to report of bank robbery at Bank of the West in Grass Valley

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Cannabis Company to Enter California, New Jersey and Michigan

Rexroad Marquis Corporation has announced major initiatives for expansion of the Shango Premium Cannabis brand into the legal cannabis markets in California, New Jersey and Michigan., Rexroad Marquis CEO Brandon Rexroad said Thursday.

(PRWEB) February 19, 2018

Rexroad Marquis Corporation (RMC) holds the intellectual property and brand licensing rights to Shango Premium Cannabis, a leading cannabis cultivator, wholesaler and retailer based in Portland, Oregon, which expanded into the Las Vegas market two years ago.

“RMC is actively pursuing expansion of the Shango brand into these three emerging markets,” Rexraod said. “We will be announcing geographical location additions soon, as well as the expansion of our product base.”

RMC has licensed the Shango brand to production, processing and sales operations in Oregon, Washington and Nevada. The Nevada licensee has continued to enhance its branded cultivation facilities, wholesale and retail sales. Recreational marijuana sales in Nevada began last July 1, 2017.

“These additions show our stability in moving forward with the vision we conceptualized four years ago,” Rexroad said. “The knowledge we gained in working into the cannabis market in two states will certainly help us going forward. This will allow us to more aggressively and effectively position RMC and Shango for success as new cannabis markets begin to open,” Rexroad said. “They will also help us secure the investment capital necessary to grow Shango into a nationwide brand.”

Rexroad will spearhead RMC’s efforts to secure cannabis cultivation, processing, wholesale and retail licenses, license company-owned production facilities and stores, and sub-license retail operations to qualified, licensed organizations that have sought to align themselves with the Shango brand.

For more information about RMC, please visit or www/

About Shango

Shango is a premium cannabis brand licensed to a full range of award-winning cannabis products, including flower, extracts and cannabis-infused edibles, produced by select cultivators and processors in Oregon, Nevada and Washington. The Shango brand also is licensed to six full-service recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries in Oregon and Nevada. A recognized leader in the cannabis marketplace and industry, Shango sets the highest standards for product quality and consistency, and business conduct. Shango is committed to cannabis education and is a fierce advocate of the safe and responsible use of cannabis products.

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Legal marijuana will receive public hearing

HARTFORD — A proposal to legalize recreational marijuana and reap the tax benefits will at least get a public hearing.

Whether the bill receives a vote in the House in Senate remains to be seen.

The general law committee last week voted to hold a public hearing on a weed bill and a date will be set shortly.

It’s imperative that we have robust conversations about cannabis, as more states around us consider legalization,” said State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam. “Let’s examine all the potential regulatory models and get the feedback from our communities we represent.”

State Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden and co-chairman of the general law committee, also said it’s time to have a debate over marijuana.

“As more neighboring states in New England move forward with legalizing cannabis use by adults, it is crucial that we have an open and transparent conversation regarding how we would do the same in Connecticut,” D’Agostino said.

“In many ways, answering the question of how we would oversee and permit adult use is a necessary precursor to deciding whether we will do so, as I think we should,” D’Agostino said.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington now all permit the sale of marijuana for adult use. In January, Vermont’s governor signed into law a bill that will allow the state to authorize the adult use of marijuana. The law is slated to take effect July 1.

A proposal to regulate the use of cannabis for adults in Connecticut comes nearly six years after the state permitted medical marijuana. Similar to medical marijuana, legal, adult use of marijuana would be regulated by the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Estimates of the tax revenue the state would receive from legal weed range up to $180 million a year.

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Minnesota’s marijuana moment: Why to legalize, by someone who doesn’t inhale

I don’t smoke marijuana. There are secret purchases required, plus the learning of code, dealer etiquette, dosing expertise, exotic strains, the latest artisanal delivery systems, and it all sounds way too complicated.

Also, because it’s easy to forget this detail, pot is illegal.

But even if pot were decriminalized tomorrow — a proposal on the table at the State Capitol — the chances of my racing out to score some “Chronicles of Narnia” and then heading home to roll up a fatty are, well, slim. Unlike Bill Clinton, the one time I did blaze up, over 20 years ago, I inhaled quite deeply enough to find the effect unpleasant. Some of us have all the feelings of alienation and existential weirdness you could ask for, thank you very much.

None of this is meant as a claim on virtue. My vice when the shop whistle blows comes by way of the less-healthy, socially acceptable pathway: that wrecker of livers, faces and families, the noble fermented beverage.

Point being, I don’t write any of the following out of the reason we tend to suspect a person calls for legalization — you know, because the writer is into weed.

It’s just that weed is already here, as if that really needed to be said, and has survived the ultimate multigenerational field test. Pot is ubiquitous in middle-class American life, or at least it was in mine. When I was growing up, my parents told us to stay away from drugs and people who take them, but the advice became tricky with pot. I smelled marijuana early and often, at parties, in the parks and at concerts back in the 1970s, mainstream shows filled with hypocrites now drawing salaries in the Twin Cities corporate economy.

Why anyone would be upset about a fellow Minnesotan lighting up is beyond me. As one of the everyday smells of life in the Midwest, I’ll take the scent of some guy’s one-hitter in Section 102 over that of lutefisk, manure-spreading or the Pine Bend refinery any day. My first record store, now that I think of it, was a clean, well-lit head shop. It sat a block from a Catholic church in the heart of south Minneapolis and offered up roach clips, rolling papers and long, welcoming cases of bongs, so-called paraphernalia that we blithely sauntered past on our way to the stacks of “Hotel California.”

Half of all Americans have tried pot, and more than 60 percent of Americans are in favor of making it legal for recreational use, according to the Pew Research Center. Eight states have done so — Colorado, California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Nevada — mainly independent-thinking places that share more in common with Minnesota than most states.

Though the Trump Justice Department recently rescinded an Obama-era policy that brought federal prosecutors in line with state laws concerning marijuana, the reversal is likely to have limited impact, given the way that it pits busy prosecutors against the will of statehouses. Recreational use also seems to have pushed the many unknowable assertions about the benefits of THC for medical use to the side — you don’t need clinical trials if you can buy it over the counter — and it comes at a time in which popular culture has mostly abandoned its dated anxieties about pot.

No one really finds the act of getting high all that interesting, for one thing. (Are you listening, Seth Rogen and James Franco?) The Cheech & Chong sketches and stoner jokes of eras past have quietly given way to depictions of “the banal normalcy of marijuana in American life today,” as the Washington Post recently described the rise of closely observed cable dramas dealing with pot, shows like “Weeds” on Showtime and “High Maintenance” on HBO. This seems to align with the life trajectory of pot use on view all around us, which is that there is no singular life trajectory of pot use, or at least no singular narrative that ends in addiction and ruin.

In college, I had a hallmate who was selling. I looked him up the other day to see what fresh hell his life had become, but it turns out he’s a family man who holds a midlevel post at one of the Fortune 500 firms in town. The guy who got me stoned back in the ’90s is now a doctor for one of the big health centers in Minneapolis.

These are only anecdotes, of course, and selling weed at a small liberal arts college is a far cry from selling in the neighborhoods, which has lately become a hazard. As the Star Tribune reported last week, dealing marijuana on the black market has become deadly in Minnesota, with 29 dealers having been killed over the last 11 years. Is that an argument against legalization or for it?

Because smoking marijuana appears to be relatively safe. According to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science, just 9 percent of adults who try marijuana become dependent, compared with 15 percent of those who try alcohol and 32 percent of those who try tobacco. So while pot may show up in lives that go off track, there have always been enough exceptions that it’s hard to say pot was causal. The decades of telling ourselves smoking pot destroys lives only delays our reckoning with the forces that do destroy lives. Pot is just a part of who we are, a culturally sanctioned form of lawlessness, a looking-the-other-way endorsed in some form by all of us.

• • •

And with that out of the way, consider now the strange privilege allowed to lawyers who depicted pot as synonymous with erratic behavior and aggression when it was helpful in acquitting Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who killed Philando Castile. The facts of the 2016 shooting are largely not in dispute: At the time of the traffic stop, the school lunch worker had THC in his system and the presence of mind to volunteer that he was carrying a firearm (with a permit, but Yanez began shooting before Castile could provide the paperwork). Having been told to hand over his driver’s license and “just don’t reach for it, then” after mention of his firearm, Castile had been given conflicting instructions about what to do with his hands. He had also been pulled over nearly 50 times for minor offenses in his lifetime, presumably enough to have made the act of reaching for his wallet second nature.

And Castile never did reach for his weapon, at least if the testimony of an EMT is to be given priority. He said the gun was found deep in Castile’s front pocket. Thanks to the ambiguousness of blood THC levels, Castile’s degree of impairment, if any, was unknown.

And yet the pot got all the attention. A web search on the trial reads like a farrago of pot-shaming and deflection, a bad crime novel from the 1950s. Lawyers endorsed Yanez’s panic over the smell of weed. They lingered over 6 grams of pot in a jar located where any driver would keep it, under the seat and out of view. Lead defense attorney Earl Gray interrogated Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds on whether it was she or Castile who had bought this small pile of San Francisco Whatnot, then belabored small changes in her story on the chain of possession of this pot. He badgered her over the interaction of her foot with the dull stash, and circled back to malign her for her daily habit.

“How much of the $20,000,” Gray taunted Reynolds over the proceeds of a bleak GoFundMe windfall, “did you use on marijuana?” Castile “was spaced out,” Gray told the jurors. “He was staring straight ahead. He was stoned.”

Does it help us to live under law to condemn a motorist to his death for staring straight ahead? Is it possible that Castile was avoiding eye contact because that’s what a cooperative person would do to preserve dignity after a lifetime of harassment on the roadways? Though blacks use marijuana at the same rates as whites, they are six and a half times more likely to be arrested for possession in Minnesota, or twice the national average.

This disparity is hardly the only reason for decriminalization — but given the role it played in Castile’s death it seems reason enough. “The tragic results of that traffic stop,” as state Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, wrote last year on the website Medium, “bring into sharp focus the unfortunate legacy of decades of criminalizing possession and use of marijuana in Minnesota.”

Thissen was, until recently, one of five DFL candidates for governor advocating for legalization of recreational marijuana by adults (he dropped out of the race earlier this month). My legislator, Rep. Tina Liebling, was among the first in the state House to call for the change, terming prohibition a “failed policy” and pitching decriminalization as a pragmatic pathway to responsible regulation of drug potency and prevention of marijuana use among minors.

First District U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, St. Paul’s state Rep. Erin Murphy and former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (who also recently left the race) have taken similar positions, with Walz noting “the system we have had was that where we looked the other way, unless you’re a person of color.”

These are hardly the voices of the extreme left: Liebling’s district includes the Mayo Clinic, while Walz is an outstate moderate. Most would move to release all convicts in the state who are imprisoned for marijuana crimes and expunge the convictions from their records, according to a recent survey by Sensible Minnesota. All of these candidates are vying to replace Gov. Mark Dayton, whose opposition to legalization remains fixated on an outdated narrative of pot, as opposed to its illicit status, as threat to public safety. “We’ve got enough drugs,” Dayton has said, “an epidemic of drugs that’s floating through our society right now, and law enforcement’s got to deal with all the consequences of it.”

“It has no future whatsoever,” said former GOP Rep. Tony Cornish, who blocked the decriminalization bill from a hearing in his public-safety committee. Which is ironic, because it was the legislative career of Rep. Cornish that would turn out to have no future, albeit thanks to a separate social upheaval. (Cornish resigned following a sex-harassment claim last fall.)

Though on opposite sides of most other issues, Dayton and Cornish were working from a script with a blind spot for the dysfunction that criminalization introduces into law enforcement. The scent of “burnt marijuana” Yanez said caused him to fear for his life gives police a pretext to search a motorist’s car. Law enforcement receives hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from earnings seized through marijuana conviction asset forfeiture, revenue that cannot help but to distort priorities and casts their impartiality on the issue into question.

From a fiscal standpoint, Minnesota taxpayers absorbed the cost of 9,000 arrests in connection with pot in 2016, or 50 percent of all drug arrests that year. It is an enormous demand on public resources and police officer time.

And for what? Among the findings nested within a 2017 National Academies of Sciences review of the medical literature at large are findings that pot makes users less, rather than more, aggressive; that it does not appear to cause lung cancer; and that the evidence is not strong for the shopworn assertion that pot use leads to harder drugs. (Illegal pot puts buyers in touch with harder drugs.)

Pot does have its share of problems. Long-term use is known to produce bronchitis and social anxiety, and at high doses is associated with a population facing the elevated risk of schizophrenia. Smoking pot appears to be a bad idea during the critical period of development that is adolescence, though that is something legalization would arguably reduce. Taking the market away from criminals, as Sensible Minnesota executive director Maren Schroeder points out, protects children. “Drug dealers don’t check IDs.”

• • •

All of which is to say that the evidence for treating pot as public enemy No. 1 is mixed at best. And yet it’s easy to see why the idea of legalization makes people uncomfortable.

I have driven down the freeway in Colorado after that state made recreational use legal. I remember how unnerving it felt to gaze over at a kid of maybe 20, barreling down the road in a beater covered in grime, smoking from a pipe in the middle of the day. It was a bright and sunny afternoon, and it just felt, ahhh, no. There’s a time and a place for everything, right?

Anyone who has visited Amsterdam, for that matter, the world’s test project for the social experiment of decriminalizing marijuana while surrounded by jurisdictions that prohibit it, knows how a charmed locale can take on the feeling of too many visitors with productivity problems and a dysphoric outlook.

Which might be our preferred way of thinking about repealing the prohibition on recreational use of pot by adults going forward. That the time has come to take away this tool for the endangerment of motorists carrying weed and the consignment of marijuana workers to dangerous conditions on the street — but to remember, as we do so, that our sense of connection with one another will surely face new forms of stress. Of all the problems with pot that have been noted in the literature, those that seem to stand out have less to do with crime than with human potential.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, pot is capable of decreasing drive and ambition. Case studies (and personal experience) remind us that pot can leave users feeling more insightful and connected within relationships, while in fact having functioned as a barrier to self-awareness and as a tool for avoiding interpersonal challenges, allowing them to multiply.

But none of those are legal problems. You could call them ordinary human problems. And they certainly aren’t reason to bear witness to even one more death of a fellow human for the crime of being stoned.

Paul John Scott is a writer in Rochester.

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Nevada marijuana dispensaries still struggling to open bank accounts

The recreational marijuana industry is booming, with Nevada collecting $33 million dollars in taxes from the dispensaries in the first five months of sales.

But, dispensaries are still struggling with one simple part of operating a businesses: opening a bank account.

That’s forcing some pot shops to operate in all-cash, while others with bank accounts are still paying thousands of dollars in bills in cash.

“My taxes… I paid those in cash,” said Mike Alvarez, vice president of retail sales for Terra Tech Corp., a publicly traded company that operates Blum dispensary in Reno.

Alvarez says the banks are hesitant to work with cannabis-related businesses because marijuana is still federally illegal.

“I really wish the federal government would declassify cannabis,” said Alvarez.

He adds that if it was removed as a Schedule I drug that would open the door for banks to be more willing to work with them.

Alvarez says Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank have all closed accounts on them. They say they do have a bank account right now, but can’t use it for all of their expenses, so they end up paying cash for some bills. They also paid their taxes and licenses in all cash.

“Thousand of dollars that we have to go pay. So it is concerning when you’re taking that much cash out and walking out to your car, or driving down and actually going to pay it and taking it in a building,” said Alvarez.

As dispensaries wait for the federal laws to change, some are exploring the use of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, as a way to get around the banks.

Since Terra Tech Corp. is publicly traded, cryptocurrency is not an option for them.

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Senator to stop blocking some DOJ jobs over pot

Sadie Gurman, Associated Press
Published 7:41 a.m. PT Feb. 16, 2018


Lyft is helping warn about DUIs involving pot in Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

WASHINGTON — Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator said Thursday he will stop blocking nominees for some Justice Department jobs, saying he is encouraged by recent conversations with federal officials about the treatment of the state’s marijuana industry, despite the Trump administration’s tougher stance.

Sen. Cory Gardner used his power last month to freeze nominations after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era protections for states like Colorado that have legalized recreational marijuana.

It was a dramatic move by the Republican senator against his own party’s attorney general and came after Gardner said Sessions had promised him there wouldn’t be a crackdown. Gardner said he was placing holds on nominees until Sessions changed his approach.

More: Elko approves ban on medical, recreational marijuana sales

More: Colorado brewer Odell expanding sales into Nevada

More: Berkeley declares it’s a sanctuary city for marijuana users

The holds created friction with Sessions, who has complained that critical posts are going unfilled, and some of Gardner’s fellow GOP senators who want key law enforcement officials in their states confirmed.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Gardner said Thursday that he’s discussed the issue with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and has been pleased with progress so far.

Department leaders have “shown in good faith their willingness to provide what I think will be hopefully the protections we sought, and as sort of a good faith gesture on my behalf I’ll be releasing a limited number of nominees,” Gardner said.

He said he was releasing his holds on nominees for U.S. attorneys in a dozen federal districts, U.S. marshals in every district and on John Demers, who was confirmed later Thursday to head Justice’s national security division.

Gardner stopped short of saying Rosenstein offered his assurances that the department would not crack down on the legal cannabis industry, but gave him enough comfort that Colorado’s acting U.S. attorney, Bob Troyer, will continue to focus on prosecuting people acting outside of Colorado’s voter-approved marijuana laws rather than those who follow them. That follows a pledge Troyer made the day Sessions announced his agency’s new marijuana policy.

The Justice Department said it appreciated Gardner’s decision and looked forward to further conversation with him.

Gardner will continue to hold the nominations of seven top Department of Justice nominees. He’s also working with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to pursue legislation protecting states that have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana groups were supportive of Gardner’s move.

“I applaud Senator Gardner for fighting for states’ rights, and support his decision to lift a number of DOJ holds on certain nominees while negotiations continue,” said Neal Levine, chairman of the pro-legalization New Federalism Fund.

But Colorado Democrats were skeptical.

“The fact that Gardner surrendered his leverage to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry in exchange for vague promises from a proven liar shows that he’s not just a pushover, but a fool as well,” said Colorado Democratic party spokesman Eric Walker.


Associated Press writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report from Denver.

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State Of The City: Carson City

Carson City is Nevada’s capital, but it’s also an independent city with about 60,000 residents. 

Every two years, the city is taken over by legislators and lobbyists, but for the people who call Carson City their permanent home, they face similar challenges of any municipality in Nevada.

Bob Crowell is the mayor of Carson City. He recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump and the administration.

Crowell said his biggest concern was talking to people in Washington about grant money the city needs to pay for a large street improvement project.

The project will improve the streets around the center of town. Crowell said the project is aimed at presenting a beautiful city to the people who get off the freeway.

“I wanted to go back there to make sure the folks in DC knew that we were out here and how important that grant was to us, hopefully, I’d like to say I accomplished that purpose,” he said.

Carson City also recently received a grant to help pay for homeless services in the city. The homeless population hasn’t grown in recent years but they want to provide a proper home for people who need it.

“We’re using those monies to make sure we try and find places for people to stay that is healthy and is not a place where they’re going to be discarded,” Crowell said.

Like many places in Nevada, Carson City has allowed recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries to open. But Carson City put a moratorium on the sale of marijuana for several months.

Crowell said they wanted to make sure they understood the ramification the sale of pot had on other communities and to launch an education project.

Reno has been suffering through a housing crunch, especially for lower and mid-priced homes. Crowell said for the first time in his memory people are moving from Reno to Carson City.

However, he doesn’t expect the same kind of rapid growth that Reno and Las Vegas has seen. He said an ordinance passed in the 70s keeps a tight control on growth in the city.

Another problem seen in Las Vegas and Reno that Crowell says Carson City doesn’t have is a school budget shortfall.

Crowell said public schools in his city are well funded and the graduation rate is at 92 percent. Making sure schools in the city continue to do well is one of his life goals.

“I would like to make sure that as I leave this office and as I left the school board that we have a community that is sustainable over the long term and  is one that is comfortable for folks with younger families who want to participate in a great quality of life and also participate in what I think is a great public education,” he said.

Crowell leaves office in 2020. 

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Ocean County Wants Marijuana To Stay Illegal

Ocean County Administration Building (Photo by Chris Lundy)

OCEAN COUNTY – When it comes to recreational pot, the freeholders are going to side with the Feds, not the new governor.

The freeholders passed a resolution at their Feb. 7 meeting opposing any state law which might allow for the use and sale of recreational marijuana.

Berkeley Township and Point Pleasant Beach have proactively banned such sales, with other towns considering such bans.

Eight states—Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Alaska, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts—and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. However, the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is still the law of the land, and bans the possession, use, purchase, sale or cultivation of cannabis for recreational use.

Freeholder Virginia Haines found it ironic that a government that has spent billions on anti-smoking campaigns over the decades, with a health-care system burdened by smoking-related illnesses and deaths, would even consider legalizing recreational marijuana.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse ( does report that marijuana has short- and long-term consequences, both physical and mental, especially with sustained use and high doses. Some problems, such as breathing issues and increased heart rate, mimic the effects of cigarette smoke. Marijuana, along with alcohol and tobacco, are considered gateway drugs.

“Now the governor of the State of New Jersey wants to allow people to smoke marijuana. If this isn’t the complete opposite of what we’ve been talking about for 30-35 years, especially to young people not to smoke. My father died from smoking, so I know exactly what that disease can do to the lungs,” Haines said. “It’s just very ironic that all [Murphy] has cared about is the money it is going to bring in.”

The Economy Of Legalization

The Medical Marijuana Program Directory ( pointed to Colorado’s economic growth since legalizing pot in 2014. According to MMP, which has a page dedicated to five reasons why New Jersey should legalize marijuana, “the total revenue from taxes, licenses, and fees increased 77% from calendar year 2014 to 2015, going from $76,152,468 up to $135,100,465.”

Different reports say legalizing marijuana could add $1.3 billion to NJ’s economy, although Murphy has not said how that additional revenue would be spent.

But not so fast, Freeholder John Bartlett Jr. said.

Besides questioning how law enforcement can determine an impaired state, he asked how Murphy thinks the state will see revenue.

“What makes even less sense is the proposition that the state may gain $300 million in tax revenues from taxing it. That’s preposterous. Do you know why,” Bartlett asked. “Because this has to be a cash economy, because it is federally illegal. A business selling marijuana in New Jersey cannot deposit that money in a bank. So, if you can’t deposit it in a bank, you can’t write a check. And if it’s cash, it never sees the books.

“So how in the heck is the State going to collect tax revenues on a cash economy, which no one knows exactly what it is,” Bartlett said.

A New York Times Magazine feature from Jan. 4, 2018, “Where Pot Entrepreneurs Go When the Banks Just Say No,” showed how one Denver marijuana business owner solved this problem: Safe Harbor Private Banking, a division of Partner Colorado Credit Union in the Denver suburb of Arvada, provides checking accounts to marijuana businesses. They are operating in clear violation of federal law, the article makes clear.

According to NYT Magazine writer Robb Mandelbaum, clients deposited $931 million in 2017, the most of any bank or credit union willing to defy federal law and provide accounts to marijuana businesses.

The article did not touch upon how revenues were or could be collected from such businesses.

File Photo

How The Feds See Pot

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote. Despite petitions brought to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify cannabis, in 2016 the Administration refused to move it from Schedule I.

“A substance is placed in Schedule I if it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. These criteria are set by statute,” Chuck Rosenberg, then DEA acting administrator, wrote in an Aug. 11, 2016 letter to Gov. Gina M. Raimondo of Rhode Island, Gov. Jay R. Inslee of Washington State, and Bryan A. Krumm, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Sage Neuroscience Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Schedule I includes some substances that are exceptionally dangerous and some that are less dangerous (including marijuana, which is less dangerous than some substances in other schedules). That strikes some people as odd, but the criteria for inclusion in Schedule I is not relative danger.”

Rosenberg further stated that legitimate or “meritorious” research into any benefits derived from cannabis has been supported by government agencies.

Freeholder Gerry Little noted that it is a Schedule 1 drug during his Feb. 7 comments, which were widely mocked by other media outlets, misinterpreting his statement that cocaine was less addictive than marijuana. Cocaine is a Schedule II substance.

“My Feb. 7 comment comparing cocaine (an FDA Schedule II Drug) as less addictive than marijuana (An FDA Schedule I Drug) was inaccurate,” Little said in a clarification to the media Feb. 9. “The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (FDEA) define both Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances as drugs that have a high potential for abuse and potential for psychological and/or physical dependence. However, the FDA and the FDEA make no specific reference about the addiction potential between Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances.

“My comment was unclear and I regret the confusion,” Little concluded.

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy spoke on the campaign trail of legalizing recreational pot use. A bill sponsored by state senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22) would allow for the “taxing, controlling and legalizing marijuana like alcohol for adults.” The bill is currently in review for the 2018 session, but few politicians on either side of the state’s political aisle have expressed support for pot legalization.

 For Medicinal Use

No freeholder spoke against marijuana for medicinal use. Murphy signed an executive order Jan. 23 “directing the New Jersey Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners to review the state’s existing medical marijuana program. The goal of the review is to eliminate barriers to access for patients who suffer from illnesses that could be treated with medical marijuana,” press secretary Daniel Bryan wrote.

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