Nevada is still on track to begin recreational cannabis sales on July 1st, but new regulations for edibles have dispensary owners scrambling.
Tourism and gaming are the state’s largest industries. Under Nevada’s legislation, cannabis may only be consumed at a private residence. This could lead to more tourists purchasing edibles out of convenience. The idea that 63 percent of the state’s 40 million annual tourists would be buying edibles triggered lawmakers to apply more regulation to edible cannabis products.
Stephanie Klapstein, the spokesperson representing the Nevada Department of Taxation that enacted the new rules said,
“From day one, we want to make sure that potency, packaging and labeling are strict from the start.”
Edibles will now be sold in doses of 10mg or less with no more than 100mg per package. Any type of product that may appeal to children, such as gumdrops or lollipops, are prohibited. The packaging and labels must not use illustration or graphic details that might appeal to a child. Since many existing products don’t fit the new criteria, edible manufacturers are working with dispensaries to provide quick fixes so that their products are legal for sale. “We are frantically having our graphic people rework those as we speak,” said Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of Wana Brands in Colorado said,
Governor Brian Sandoval moved to support revised regulation that would go into effect on the first day recreational sales are scheduled to begin. Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for the governor’s office said,
“The Governor wants to see the state realize the revenues from its sales, and most importantly, wants a regulatory structure that is restricted, responsible and respected.”
As of July 1, adults 21 and older will be able to purchase 1 ounce of cannabis or less, as well as an eighth of an ounce of edible cannabis. As the ninth state to legalize recreational cannabis, Nevada has plenty of data to use as reference. “We really went around the country, looked at the best laws, and brought them here because we want to be the model,” said Sen. Tick Segerblom.
But it appears that Nevada will already have its own rules. Earlier in June, a court order gave state-licensed alcohol distributors the sole responsibility of transporting and distributing recreational cannabis. The state hopes to eliminate this order so that they may license distributors without the involvement of the alcohol industry. Currently, no other state has a regulation of this nature.
Industry experts in both the cannabis and alcohol industries have been speculating as to how recreational cannabis sales will affect alcohol sales in Nevada, a state with a thriving appetite for liquor. The number of tourists who may flock to Nevada for recreational cannabis within the confines of “America’s Playground” have investors keeping a close watch starting July 1.
“This is the ‘big boy’ state. If you are the ‘who’s who’ of the cannabis industry, you are in Nevada because of our tourism.” said Clint Cates, director of compliance for Mainstream Partners and Kynd Cannabis Co.
In the short term, dispensary owners are anticipating long lines on the first day of recreational sales, and are working with the local authorities to maintain public safety.
Sheldon Adelson is one of America’s wealthiest people. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and his casino interests place him as the 18th richest man in the world, worth around $28 billion.
The 82-year-old Adelson also vehemently opposes cannabis legalization and single-handedly defeated Florida’s medical marijuana bill two years ago. With legal marijuana very much on the nation’s (and Nevada’s) agenda this fall, Adelson just gave Donal Trump his firm endorsement.
That endorsement could mean very little, or, as Attn points out, could be Adelson’s way of impacting Trump’s stance on marijuana. While Trump has, in the past, stated his cautious support for medical marijuana and state-by-state legislation, Trump’s true feelings on the cannabis industry remain somewhat unknown.
The man that sits behind Trump at his speeches, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is arguably the only person who despises the marijuana revolution more than Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s endorsement of Trump may not mean much in the way of marijuana, but if he is donating funds to Trump’s campaign (a likelihood), Adelson will surely occupy real estate in Trump’s ear.
That means marijuana’s two most dangerous and powerful opponents would literally be right behind Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. Along with his effort in Florida, Adelson has also forced the Las Vegas newspaper he owns to retract its pro-cannabis stance.
Given that over 80% of Americans support medical marijuana in the United State, Donald Trump will likely say all the right things leading up to November’s vote and continue to seem like he’s for medical marijuana. But no one truly knows whether or not that voiced stance is reality or a mirage.
Terra Tech, one of the nation’s largest, vertically integrated cannabis companies, will bring its talents to the Las Vegas strip this 4/20.
On April 6, Terra Tech announced that the Las Vegas City Council approved the company’s Blum dispensary to open at 1921 Western Avenue. The dispensary now has all necessary permits and will open to both Nevada’s patients and tourists with medical marijuana cards (Nevada has reciprocity) on marijuana’s national holiday on April 20.
Among the offerings at this dispensary, Terra Tech will debut a “brand new line of pre-filled cannabis oil cartridges from their brand IVXXX. This new line of oil cartridges will come in a variety of strains and are made from “local, sustainably grown cannabis” via an innovative CO-2 extraction method. Terra Tech will also offer premier flowers, extracts, and edibles at its Las Vegas location.
The dispensary is located adjacent to the highly populated Las Vegas strip and should gain immediate traction. Terra Tech CEO Derek Peterson envisions a successful ground opening in what may be America’s new cannabis capital, adding that
“We see tremendous opportunity in Nevada’s medical cannabis market and are confident that having a physical presence will enable us to gain market share and position Terra Tech as an industry leader in this emergent market.”
As Las Vegas’s legitimate medical marijuana continues to emerge as a major player in America’s growing industry, Terra Tech appears to be poised to sparkled in the city’s bright lights.
Patients who register with their state’s medical cannabis program typically become, literally, card carrying members. What many do not realize is that some states recognize the registrations of those from outside areas, something that is called reciprocity. While most states do not recognize out-of-state medical cannabis exemptions or qualifications, a few do. Of these, there are important differences of which millions of traveling patients should be aware.
The medical cannabis laws of most states do not allow reciprocity for one simple reason: It invites scrutiny by federal authorities, specifically those in the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. The Justice Department is home to the DEA and exercises oversight for interstate commerce. It therefore has a vested concern to ensure that diversion (legal cannabis being delivered to illegal recipients) and other fraudulent activity is not involved. The issue becomes only more complex based on the fact that medical, and even recreational, cannabis is legal in some states, but all forms of cannabis are illegal at the federal level.
The federal government categorizes cannabis as Schedule I, meaning it is officially as “dangerous and addictive” as heroin and bath salts. In fact, both cocaine and methamphetamines, two truly addictive drugs that nearly any medical professional will testify are more dangerous than cannabis, both reside in less-restrictive Schedule II; they can even be prescribed by a physician.
Possession vs. Purchase
Four states with medical cannabis laws on the books allow visitors to legally possess and consume cannabis (within limits), but do not provide safe access via dispensaries to the medicine or related products (like concentrates, edibles, tinctures, and topicals).
States allowing registered patients from out-of-state to possess cannabis include:
- New Hampshire: Visiting patients are permitted to possess and consume cannabis, but cannot purchase or grow the herb.
- Arizona: Card-carrying patients from other states are permitted to possess and use cannabis, but not purchase it.
- Michigan: Visiting patients may possess and use. If driving with cannabis, the herb must be stored in a case in a locked trunk of the vehicle.
- Rhode Island: Like similar states, visiting qualifying patients may use and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, but cannot purchase from dispensaries in the state.
There are three states that practice full reciprocity and will legally allow, under certain circumstances, out-of-state patients to make purchases at licensed dispensaries. This is a way for those suffering a debilitating disease or condition, especially those who must medicate daily, to obtain medicine when they are traveling. It is not recommended that patients attempt to carry cannabis through an airport or on a flight. While many are successful, the legal ramifications in some states — or from federal authorities — simply are not worth the risk for the average patient.
It is legal for any patient possessing a valid medical cannabis card, from any state, to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis products at Nevada dispensaries. In fact, because reciprocity is practiced by so few states in the U.S., Nevada may become a destination for patients in other states who wish to vacation or meet business clients, but don’t desire to — or simply can’t — go without their medicine for the duration of their travel.
In Nevada, reciprocity is fairly straightforward. At their first dispensary visit, patients from out-of-state are asked to sign an affidavit testifying that they are currently a valid patient in another state. In addition, traveling patients are restricted to that initial dispensary for one month. Because most travelers, especially those vacationing in Las Vegas, will be staying a considerably shorter period of time than a month (a two to seven day span is more common), they are limited to a single dispensary for that particular trip. Las Vegas is significant, especially considering that 40 million people travel there each year (that’s the entire population of California, the most populous state in the nation).
Thus, patients visiting Las Vegas or Reno should be careful when selecting their initial dispensary. If their next trip to the Silver State is more than 30 days in the future, they will then be able to shop at the dispensary of their choice. Some have pondered if Nevada will pass recreational legalization via a ballot initiative in November 2016. If it does, Las Vegas could become the Amsterdam of the United States, being America’s legal adult playground for more than merely gambling and big-dollar magic acts.
The fact that Nevada is risking federal scrutiny to do what is best for patients is both relatively novel among states that have enacted medical cannabis laws, but also within the theme of Nevada’s tourism. If there are three states that understand the economic and cultural benefits of a robust tourism industry, it is Nevada, Colorado, and California. This spirit is finally being expressed within state laws affecting medical cannabis patients.
In Hawaii, patients from the mainland must simply register with the state. None of the details of this program are available, however, due to the fact that it will not go into effect until January 1, 2018. Patients traveling to this classic vacation destination of perfect temperatures and gorgeous beaches must remain patient for their opportunity to spend a few days in paradise while also remaining medicated to reduce or eliminate pain and nausea or deliver relief from inflammation-based diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and even cancer.
Maine requires that the recommending physician of visiting patients submit a form that testifies to the patient’s condition and eligibility in their home state. Visiting patients may designate a caregiver or dispensary in Maine, but not both. Surprisingly — in what seems to be an effort to accommodate those who relocate to Maine, not just visitors or vacationers — patients can have their doctor petition for their right to cultivate up to six mature plants.
Thus, patients who qualify for their home state’s medical cannabis program may visit or move to Maine and immediately request, via their recommending doctor, legal permission to consume and even cultivate cannabis.
Federal legality would eliminate the need for states to practice reciprocity in their recognition of registered medical cannabis patients from fellow states. However, this isn’t something that is on the political horizon in Washington, D.C. and a popular topic in Congress. Until true progress is made on Capitol Hill, patients will have to rely upon the handful of states that officially recognize the programs of those outside their own borders.
Despite the passage of 15 years since the state passed its medical cannabis law, Nevada finally has two dispensaries — Silver State Relief in Reno and Euphoria Wellness in Las Vegas — to serve patients.
However, Nevada offers something that many other states don’t: Up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis to patients visiting from out-of-state.
Those with a valid medical card, a government-issued ID, and who sign an affidavit affirming they are legally permitted to possess and consume medical cannabis in their home state. Based on Las Vegas’ huge tourism business (more than 41 million people visited Sin City in 2014 alone), it makes sense that the state would welcome medical patients from outside its borders.
Unfortunately, doing so puts the state under more scrutiny with the federal government. One of the primary roles of the feds is to govern interstate commerce, including illegal activities that cross state borders. If the DEA suspects that cannabis is finding its way across the border, raids and federal interference may result.
In Arizona, for example, patients from out-of-state are able to possess medical cannabis, but are not permitted to purchase it at any of the state’s dispensaries.
Nevada Senator Tick Segerblom sponsored the medical legalization bill. He said the state is the “gold standard” of medical cannabis programs and that the reaction from the public has been positive so far. It’s an effort to look at the glass half full after a ridiculously long 15-year wait by the state’s patients. Segerblom gave the media a quote not often heard out of the mouth of a politician:
“Let’s regulate it, let’s tax it. We’re known as the place you go to do things that you can’t do elsewhere, so why not smoke a little pot, too?”
Some Hotels, No Casinos
Those looking to the future with an eye to purchasing their medical cannabis at a casino dispensary, however, may be disappointed. Nevada’s Gaming Control Board in May 2014 alerted licensees that they probably won’t be getting their medical cannabis from a casino anytime soon.
“Unless the federal law is changed, the Board does not believe investment or any other involvement in a medical marijuana facility or establishment by a person who has received a gaming approval or has applied for a gaming approval is consistent with the effective regulation of gaming.”
Many tourists may have to engage in a bit of stealth to consume medical cannabis in their hotel, however. Smoking cannabis in public is illegal in Nevada — even for patients. But Sergeant Chuck Callaway, director of intergovernmental services for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, suggests that patients should consider using vaporizers in public, as long as no marijuana odor is emitted.
Many businesses in the hospitality sector prohibit the consumption of cannabis on their grounds. According to the Las Vegas police, the most appropriate place for patients to consume their medicine is in hotels that allow it. Some hotels have begun allowing their guests to consume cannabis on the terrace of their room, as long as the odor doesn’t disturb other guests. Casinos, however, will be off limits — unless a casino specifically allows it — in which case the cops will butt out.
Until “smoking clubs” and other venues for vaping or smoking emerge, patients will run the risk of being booted from their hotel when they try to relax with their medicine in the comfort of their room.
DUI: Take a Cab
Unfortunately, Nevada has a zero-tolerance policy in terms of the presence of cannabis metabolites in a driver’s blood. Patients who consume are advised to take a cab or a limo to avoid being convicted of DUI in the state.
While it’s nice to see Nevada finally provide safe access to cannabis medicine to both its citizens and tourists, patients should be careful to avoid getting kicked out of their hotel, arrested for DUI, or consuming in public when on vacation. However, sick patients who need their medicine when on vacation, and maybe some slots or blackjack while they’re at it, are in business.
If Nevada legalizes recreational cannabis next year (it’s a ballot issue for November 2016), issues like where cannabis users can consume the herb will become a more heated topic.