This Saturday at midnight, droves of Nevada residents and tourists lined up at local dispensaries to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana. Last November, Nevada voters legalized recreational marijuana. Now adults over the age of 21 can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. Public use is still prohibited with a $600 fine for anyone caught consuming it. Due to federal and casino rules, dispensaries cannot be located on the Las Vegas strip although nearby areas will host dispensaries and for tourists who may be interested in enjoying marijuana.
Celebration of Recreational Cannabis
An excited public lined up outside dispensaries and enjoyed a show of green fireworks. A couple even took the liberty of getting married in a marijuana greenhouse. Cheers of joy were shared amongst wide demographics of 20 somethings, elderly smokers, veterans and everyone in between. State Senator Tick Segerblom, who is considered Nevada’s “godfather of the marijuana movement”, was one of the first to make a purchase. He told CNN affiliate KSNV, “Every time you buy something here, 33-cents is going to taxes. This is the most heavily taxed and regulated industry in the whole state.”
Projected Financial Benefits
The legal recreational marijuana industry is expected to generate $60 million in tax revenue over the next couple of years. 2/3 of all marijuana purchases are expected to come from tourists. Las Vegas is one of the most highly visited tourist destinations in the country with approximately $42 million stopping by every year. In other states where marijuana has been legalized, tax revenue has gone to fund schools, educational programs and other valuable community services. Nevada is the 5th state in the country to have initiated marijuana sales in dispensaries although a total of 8 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana, including California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts.
According to The Cannabist, 44 dispensaries have been given the license to sell recreational marijuana, with 39 of them located in the Las Vegas area. Dispensaries, in their excitement, blasted all kinds of promotions to inspire the public to come their way. They created special events, raffles and some even gave out free samples to the first 100 customers. Hype was spread through social media and appears to have worked as hundreds of people lined up and an excited public celebrated.
Due to legal issues involving distributors, dispensaries will only be allowed to sell what they have in stock. In the initial ballot, the alcohol industry was given the exclusive rights to distribute marijuana. Not enough companies showed interest which resulted initially in marijuana distributors being allowed to apply for licenses. The alcohol industry filed a suit against the state as a result and the issue will need to be resolved in order to establish a more permanent solution to distribution. Until that point, dispensaries are open to the public and people are welcome to purchase the plant for as long as stock is available.