From Wayne Newton’s plastic face to Guy Fieri’s frosted tips, Nevada is home to many modern marvels. The Hoover Dam, 24/7 Wedding Chapels, legalized prostitution and non-existent drinking laws come to mind when extolling the virtues of the Silver State. Soon recreational marijuana sales will be added to the short list of reasons Nevada isn’t the worst state in the Union.
Earlier this week Nevada’s Department of Taxation sanctioned temporary regulations that allow for recreational cannabis sales to begin as early as July 1—six months prior to originally being scheduled. Current medical marijuana establishments in good standing with the state will be permitted to apply for a license to provisionally sell recreational cannabis ahead of the initial January 1, 2018 start date.
Reciprocity and delivery services have long made Nevada a bit more tolerable for medical marijuana patients less inclined to wake up with a tiger in the bathroom. From here on out—every conference attendee, eloper, internet marketer, blue hair and green thumb headed to the desert not with the express interest of fucking shit up will have the opportunity to act responsibly and adhere to local ordinances while enjoying legally purchased cannabis. It may be a pipe dream to think free joints will being to be passed out to players lining blackjack and baccarat tables but a time is upon us where anything is possible.
A win is a win, however any notion of common sense prevailing or leading this decision were quickly dashed when Deonne Contine, Executive Director at the Department of Taxation opened her mouth to the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
“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.”
If it doesn’t make dollars it won’t make sense. Candidates for the temporary licenses will need to cough up a non-refundable fee of $5,000 in addition to between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on the classification of license they’ll be applying for. The budget calls for roughly 70 million dollars in taxes to be collected from recreational marijuana over the next two years. Sales tax and an additional 15 percent excise tax on wholesale purchases will provide the state with plenty of extra money, which may help clean up puke from the strip or apprehend drunk drivers or fund public education.
Progress is never without its detractors. Members of the alcohol industry desperate not to be left out the cash grab associated with legal cannabis have been pouting after the Department of Taxation dashed their hopes for a monopoly surrounding the distribution of Nevada’s recreational cannabis. The determination was made that an insufficient amount of distributor licenses from people holding wholesaler liquor dealer’s licenses were present to serve the new recreational market and applications will now be made available to those outside of the liquor lobby.
Despite the crybaby tactics and early poo-pooing from a variety of special interest groups, Nevada will continue its descent into the madness of regulated cannabis sales and reap the economic windfall that comes with the territory.
Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom has introduced SB 375, a bill that would authorize “agreements between the Governor and Indian tribes in this State relating to the regulation of the use of marijuana.”
And a lot of tribal leaders are showing interest, many making the trip to the state legislature last week to make their voices heard.
“The tribes would oversee what is happening on their reservation, but when they participate in the system they would have to follow the state rules,”
Like most Native American reservations around the U.S., those in Nevada suffer from chronic poverty and unemployment. Many tribal leaders see legal cannabis as a great opportunity to create jobs.
Since a 2014 Department of Justice announcement that seemed to allow tribes leeway in legalizing and regulating marijuana, attempts to do just that have not gone well. But for many tribes, there is no other option. They need marijuana legalization to work on their lands.
“We lack a tribal court system, we lack a police department, we lack health services – this may help create those services,”
said David Decker, Chairman of the Elko Band Council for the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone, when he testified before the State Senate Judiciary Committee. “Just to pay for dispatch, this is very expensive. This could help us pay for all those economic securities that we currently can’t provide.”
In light of the history between authorities in the U.S. and Native American tribes, it seems like a small concession to allow tribes to grow and sell marijuana and generate some economic activity on their lands…those that remain, at least. Given the uncertainty surrounding the marijuana industry, tribes are taking quite a risk to go on this path. Hopefully politicians in Nevada will give them the tools they need to get an industry off the ground.
“They are sticking their necks out on this one, but at some point you have to say, ‘We can’t sit around and twiddle our thumbs,’”Sen. Segerblom said.
“I think the tribes – because they’re sovereign nations – they will have a better leg to stand on [if they are challenged by the feds].”
In the end, of course, marijuana should be legal on all lands. And if adult use marijuana is legal in Nevada – which it is – there is no reason to keep Native American tribes from participating and benefitting from that fact.
Originally published: The Marijuana Times
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.