It has been a year since recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada, and the results are good. Reports are that sales have generated $55 million in tax income for the state, and associated crime is negligible.
Nevada has a 15 percent excise tax rate on the first wholesale sale and a 10 percent retail excise tax on the sale price when product is sold for adult use and not to a medical marijuana patient. Marijuana products sold to a patient cardholder are not subject to 10 percent tax. As for crime, no significant increase in crime associated with marijuana has been reported, even though dispensaries are known to have cash. As for driving while impaired, traffic fatalities have dropped about 7 percent in Nevada since legalization.
The Nevada politician best known for his advocacy of marijuana is State Senator Tick Segerblom, who said in a prepared statement: “I was able to get our recreational standards put into law in July 2017, when dispensaries began selling their products to adults over the age of 21. Now I want to focus my passion for marijuana rights on Clark County. Las Vegas is America’s playground. In order to maintain our status as the go-to place for adventurous celebrations, we need to make marijuana use an option in specially-designated businesses, parks, and venues.”
Currently, under Nevada law, the only legal place to consume marijuana is a private residence. This leaves tourists with the ability to buy marijuana but not smoke it.
Segerblom is also advocating for a marijuana bank in the state. Since marijuana businesses are engaging in criminal activity under federal law, banking remains a problem for them. Segerblom said: “A public bank would help ease the security threat that these cash-heavy businesses feel as potential robbery targets. It may also deter other illegal activities, such as tax evasion and money laundering, which take place whenever large amounts of cash circulate without a paper trail. California is considering this option, as well.”
In addition to making marijuana legal to use in designated public places and creating a state bank to handle the accounts of marijuana businesses, Segerblom has additional legislative plans. These include: a program for the expungement of marijuana offenses from criminal records, laws and regulations that encourage diversity in the marijuana business, keeping testing programs up-to-date and functioning well (with legalization, some labs did fail inspections and were shut down), and continuing improvements in taxation.
When marijuana first became legal in Nevada, demand was so great that there were shortages, and the state’s supreme court had to settle a dispute about who had distribution rights. This shortage may be attributed to an unusual feature of Nevada’s legalization program: liquor distributors were put first in line for marijuana distribution. This may be seen as a reflection of the power that liquor industry lobbyists yield in the state’s capital. The court ruled in favor of third-party distribution, which allows for companies other than the big liquor companies to obtain distribution licenses.
Reports indicate that close to 90 cannabis companies have entered the fray in Nevada to gain rights to distribute marijuana, in competition with seven alcohol distributors. Recreational marijuana in Nevada has increased the state’s tax income and created no measurable increase in crime. The biggest problem so far was a temporary shortage of product, which was addressed by opening the market. In summary, Nevada’s legalization program is a success.
What do you think? Will Las Vegas soon have marijuana lounges? Leave a comment below.