A band of New Jersey lawmakers and marijuana executives will be in Las Vegas Thursday and Friday to pick the brains of their Nevada counterparts.
The visit is part of a “fact finding” trip for elected officials, including Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, to learn how Nevada went about erecting a regulated marijuana market within seven months of voters approving legal sales.
Newly elected New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has vowed to bring recreational marijuana to the Garden State, and the visit offers lawmakers a chance to learn from Nevada officials and stakeholders about what worked, what didn’t and what unforeseen issues might arise along the way (looking at you, distribution).
But other states like Washington, Oregon and Colorado have more mature markets, so why Nevada?
“We think Nevada is, right now, the very best example of a well-regulated market,” said Hugh O’Beirne, President of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, the organization hosting the visit.
Nevada’s ability to get recreational sales started six months ahead of schedule was a big selling point, O’Beirne said, adding that he believes New Jersey wants to replicate that kind of regulatory quickness.
O’Beirne also said that given the two states’ shared history of regulating casinos, Nevada’s recent venture into trying to determine how gaming and cannabis can co-exist is something they hope to glean from the visit.
Nevada state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the visit shows that Nevada has become the “gold standard” for marijuana regulation, despite being one of the youngest markets.
“We are the model,” he said.
For Segerblom, cannabis fact-finding trips are nothing new. He’s been on the visiting side in the past.
In 2013, as Nevada was pushing forward with legislation to allow for medical marijuana sales, Segerblom and other state lawmakers went to Arizona to talk to regulators and visit marijuana businesses to see how it was being done. He went on similar trips to Colorado in 2015 and to Oregon in 2016 after Nevada voters approved recreational sales.
Segerblom said his biggest take away from those trips, and what he hopes to impart on his New Jersey counterparts, is that “there’s no point in reinventing the wheel.”
“If other states are doing it and doing it well, why not just do it that way.”