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Local Pot Store in North Las Vegas, Nevada
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The Highs And Lows Of Marijuana Use
As marijuana states back off of social marijuana use for fear of inciting a federal crackdown, Nevada is bucking the trend and pushing ahead with pot clubs. Senate Bill 236, which would let local governments permit marijuana social clubs and other forms of public use currently outlawed, took one step closer to becoming law Tuesday. The bill passed with a 12-9 vote on Tuesday, and it now goes to the Assembly. On Monday, Clark County’s marijuana advisory panel finalized recommendations for for county commissioners that detail how marijuana lounges in Southern Nevada could work. But other states have exercised more caution under the Trump administration. ADVERTISING In Colorado this month, lawmakers gutted a bill that would have permitted social pot clubs after Gov. John Hickenlooper warned that such a move could draw the ire of the administration and bring federal drug enforcers down upon the state’s billion-dollar industry. In Alaska, lawmakers delayed a law allowing consumption in dispensaries, and Maine is considering a similar move. That leaves the door open for Nevada to become the first state to allow regulated social clubs. The move seems to have support from the gaming industry. Adults 21 and older can possess (and later this year buy) up to an ounce of marijuana, but the law that took effect Jan. 1 makes it so they can only consume that in a private residence. That leaves tourists who stay on the Strip or other resort properties in a conundrum: They will be able to buy pot legally, but will have no place to use it because casinos have been told to keep it off their properties or risk losing their licenses. “Tourists don’t have a home in Nevada,” bill sponsor Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said on the Senate floor before the vote. Pot lounges in Clark County would be located off the Strip, and could act as a “safe haven” for tourists who want to use marijuana, said Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands Corp. senior vice president, at Monday’s panel meeting. Not having those lounges, Abboud added, would cause tourists to bring the drug onto the casino properties and “dump the responsibility onto the resort corridor.” Tony Alamo, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, echoed those thoughts, saying those lounges would keep gaming companies from running afoul with the federal law. Revenue source The Senate voted down party lines, with 11 Democrats and independent Sen. Patricia Farley voting yes, and nine Republicans casting “nay” votes. Segerblom noted Gov. Brian Sandoval’s two-year budget calls for roughly $70 million from a special marijuana sales tax, and said tourists are an important part of that goal. “We’re trying to get $70 million in tax revenue from them,” Segerblom said. “So let’s give them some place to use it.” Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, noted two reasons why he was voting against he bill: He thinks the people who voted for the marijuana ballot measure in November did so thinking that people would only be able to consume in their homes, and because most of the counties he represents voted against legalization.
Nevada Marijuana Laws
Marijuana dispensaries may start selling recreational weed within Nevada as soon as July 1, the state tax board voted Monday, six months earlier than previously expected. While Nevadans voted last November in favor of legalizing marijuana, lawmakers aren’t expected to draft rules governing the state’s recreational weed program until January 2018. With medical marijuana dispensaries already legally operating across the state, however, the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday voted 6-1 in favor of granting temporary retail licenses to currently existing pot shops. Monday’s decision means licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries in Nevada can submit applications to the state Department of Taxation starting May 15 seeking permission to sell their wares to patrons other than patients. Dispensaries deemed to be in good standing with the state are expected to receive the first temporary licenses July 1, at which point they’ll be legally allowed to serve medical and recreational weed customers alike. Temporary retail licenses will expire January 2018, giving the state several months to study the immediate impact of legalizing marijuana before finalizing the framework for its voter-approved recreational weed program. Indeed, politicians have said they expect retail weed will do wonders for Nevada’s coffers, provided of course its recreational pot program gets off the ground without a hitch. Gov. Brian Sandoval said he intends for recreational marijuana to rake in $70 million within its first two years, the likes of which may not be easily achievable unless some pot shops are given a head-start. “If we don’t adopt the regulations, we will not have a temporary program. If we don’t have a temporary program, we will not have the revenue that’s included in the governor’s budget,” Deonne Contine, the director of the state Department of Taxation, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Nonetheless, medical dispensaries across the state are hardly guaranteed a business boom as a result of Monday’s vote: marijuana retailers in Nevada require approval from both state and local officials to operate, but not all jurisdictions have given the green-light just yet to recreational marijuana. While Clark County and its largest city, Las Vegas, plan to license pot shops July 1, Henderson — the state’s second most-populous city — previously passed a moratorium barring any pot shops from opening until at least August, the Review-Journal reported. Nevada and three other states voted last November to approve recreational marijuana, bringing the total number of states to legalize weed to nine, including Washington, D.C., notwithstanding weed remaining a Schedule I narcotic, according to the federal government.