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.
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.