It has been a year since Nevada launched its recreational cannabis market on July 1, 2017 — giving way to strong retail pot sales and tax revenue that have surpassed what analysts originally predicted. Some of the latest figures show that the state raked in around $340 million in sales within the first 10 months of operation — $55 million of which has been deposited into the state’s coffers. What’s more is thousands of new jobs have been created since adults 21 and over were officially cut loose from their black market ties. All of this has happened with “little change” and “no issues,” according to State Senator Tick Segerblom, the lawmaker largely credited for supporting the cannabis debate at the State Capitol. Segerblom recently told the Las Vegas Journal that, “there’s been virtually no issues” and everything has gone “amazingly smooth.”
But the market did not start out that way. Last year, just eight months after the voters passed an initiative to fully legalize the leaf, there were some heated times brought about by the state’s liquor wholesalers. The beef asserted that the alcohol trade had first dibs on the distribution of recreational marijuana, as per the language of Question 2. The initiative gives the alcohol industry exclusive distribution rights for the first 18 months.
The situation caused the state to run out of weed within the first two weeks of legal sales. This ultimately led Governor Brian Sandoval to issue a “statement of emergency” (not to be confused with a state of emergency) that allowed more distributors than just the alcohol trade to put pot products on dispensary shelves. The Nevada Supreme Court was eventually brought in to settle the issue.
“That’s probably the most significant hiccup,” Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Department of Taxation, told Watchdog.org. Other than that, “we haven’t had any significant issues come up.”
There have been some ridiculous developments emerge since the dawning of legal sales. For instance, the Nevada Gaming Commission, back in April, amended its policy on gambling-while-intoxicated to include players under the influence of marijuana.
The new rule prohibits casinos from allowing patrons who appear “visibly intoxicated” on cannabis from placing bets. The commission said it wanted to make it crystal-clear across the board under all regulations that ‘impairment’ is not just alcohol; it’s being impaired by drugs.”
Following the ruling, Caesar’s Entertainment made the decision to eliminate marijuana from its pre-employment drug screen. The company said back in May that, “We just felt that given the changes in laws that were happening across the country, it was prudent for us to take a different point of view on marijuana.” Still, while it seemed the casino was becoming more pot-friendly when it comes to its potential employees, the rub on this policy change is “If you’re high at work, we will test. And if you have the presence of drugs in your bloodstream, it can be cause for dismissal.”
At best, Nevada’s recreational marijuana market is a work in progress. Although the herb is legal to possess, it still cannot be consumed anywhere other than a private residence. Cannabis advocates have been pushing to establish some sort of social use system that would allow marijuana consumers to partake in certain public facilities. But so far, nothing has been agreed upon.
Senator Segerblom argues that it is unfair to lure tourists in and not give them anywhere they can legally consume. “If we’re really going to advertise and bring people from around the world to raise our sales, we have to have places where (resorts) can say ‘Go over there and use it,’ ” he said.
Overall, Nevada experienced a much better first year with its recreational cannabis market than any other legal state. But that hasn’t stopped the naysayers from discounting its success.
“One year is simply not enough time to truly grasp the damaging effects legalization has on a state,” Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It will take decades for a full assessment.”
TELL US, have you experienced cannabis in Nevada yet?