Sin City is getting less sinful all the time — at least in the sense of what’s legal. After 54 percent of Nevada voters said yes to marijuana legalization initiative Measure 2, adults 21 and over can lawfully possess a modest amount of cannabis and grow no more than six plants per person (12 per household), in Las Vegas and all throughout the state beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
Vegas, already keen on being friendly to tourists wanting to patronize its medical cannabis dispensaries, is set to become the international capital for marijuana-friendly tourism. But not right away.
State lawmakers have until Jan. 1, 2018 to come up with rules for adult-use dispensaries, testing facilities, and every other aspect of how exactly a regulated and taxed adult-us marijuana industry is supposed to work.
So where are the nearly 40 million people who visit Las Vegas every year supposed to get their weed when they visit the Strip until then? That’s a good question, and the answer suggests 2017 will be a golden year for the black market in Nevada. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Las Vegas-based Democrat and a legalization supporter, summed up the Catch-22 thusly in comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “I can own an ounce, and the cops can’t do anything to me. But I can’t buy an ounce, so where am I gonna buy it?”
The obvious answer is the black market — including, presumably, some of the people growing those six plants — which in the end may work out well for everyone involved, except for black-market entrepreneurs.
Merely the threat of law-flouting weed-sellers fulfilling the demand may be enough to compel lawmakers to spring into action ahead of their Jan. 1, 2018 deadline.
If lawmakers move fast, Nevada citizens and the state’s many visitors may be able to browse the offerings at existing medical marijuana dispensaries by summer 2017.
Existing medical marijuana dispensaries with state licenses will have priority to receive adult-use licenses — in fact, for the first 18 months of licensing, only existing dispensaries will be able to apply for an adult-use dispensary license, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
There are currently about 50 dispensaries in Nevada, according to a state tally from late October, with nearly all of them in and around Las Vegas.
There’s no guarantee everything will fall into place by the summertime — not if some of the state’s most influential power brokers have their way. Recall that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval penned a letter imploring voters to say no to legalization.
And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — the same Donald Trump-supporting Sheldon Adelson who convinced Sandoval to sign over $750 million in public funds for a Las Vegas NFL stadium and who purchased a newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which mysteriously flipped from supporting legalization to opposing it — put $2 million of his billion-dollar fortune into the opposition effort.
Either one could easily lean on lawmakers to slow things down, which, in turn, would help the black market.
In any event, what Nevada does will have an impact all over the West, including in pious Utah. Residents of that state already drive an hour and a half or more to towns in Nevada in order to gamble and buy alcohol to bring back home. One way or another, they’ll also load on on cannabis. Who they buy it from is up to those lawmakers.
Keep in mind, however, that Vegas’s dispensaries are open for business right now for anyone with a state-issued medical marijuana ID card.
While can’t recommend breaking a smoking ban in a particular real estate magnate’s Vegas hotel, if one were to smoke a joint in Trump’s Vegas property, we would approve.
TELL US, are you excited to legally smoke marijuana in Las Vegas?
Cannabis Now will be present at the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas this week. Come by our booth and say “high.”