On July 1, recreational marijuana shops all across Nevada opened their doors for the first time to publicly sell marijuana and become the fifth US state to legalize the selling of recreational marijuana. Under the new legislation, anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can purchase up to an ounce of marijuana from public dispensaries. In the first month of legalization, Nevada dispensaries sold over $27.1 million of pot in July, according to USA Today. That’s almost double what Colorado and Oregon sold in their first month.
Previously Nevada had allowed the use of medical marijuana in it’s state to anyone who was over the age of 18 with a valid prescription. Nevada lawmakers drafted previous bills in 2002 and 2006 in attempt at previously legalizing the plant, but were defeated by the polls before the initiatives could even make it to the floor.
The legislation, which was finished late last June, was specifically designed in collaboration with state senators to boost Nevada’s tourism industry, which has been in a minor recession. Last year, Nevada was one of four other states to vote on the legalization of marijuana, alongside California, Massachusetts and Maine.
Alike other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Nevada’s laws are fairly similar, in scope. Smoking marijuana outside still remains illegal, despite any attempted state legislature, and fines and penalties for breaking those laws can cost a thousand dollar fine, and/or up to six months in jail time. Nevada was also a state that promoted the expansion of medical marijuana heavily in 2011.
“If anything is anything like Colorado, we’re likely to see people who have only smoked marijuana in the past try different products, like edibles,” Executive Director of the Department of Taxation Deonne Contine said in a statement back in early July, in regards to the legalization of marijuana.
Contine also warned users in the same document that just because recreational use was legalized, doesn’t mean that it’s legal to smoke in public. She also told the public to take caution of how much they were using daily and check labels to confirm the correct amount in a serving size.
Even with Nevada’s early spike in marijuana sales, the state is still expected to sell $700 million worth of marijuana within the next two years. This is a number that many analysts say will not help support Nevada’s tourism budget, even with the additional 15 percent tax added onto sales.
Tourists are expected to make up to 63% of recreational sales within the next couple years as recreational marijuana makes its eventual climb to a multi-billion dollar state business. Last year, more than 40 million people visited Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press.