As most Nevadans know by now, marijuana regulation will be on the 2016 Nevada ballot. Nevada will decide if now is the time to make recreational marijuana legal in the state. The Question 2 initiative, if passed, will remove legal penalties for possession of marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Adults will be able to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and an 8th of concentrated marijuana to use for private use.
“Nevada first passed a medical marijuana bill back in 2000,” but it wasn’t until late 2015 that medical marijuana dispensaries like Las Vegas ReLeaf opened for business to the medical marijuana patient. Now, there are nearly 20,000 residents who use medical marijuana, and dispensaries can even accept cards from out of state—perfect for the tourism industry with medical marijuana patients visiting from other states.
Nevadans who support the recreational marijuana initiative in Nevada propose that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. Proponents of the initiative say regulating marijuana is safer than alcohol, and for good reason, considering that no one has died from a marijuana overdose—ever.
Even Tick Segerblom believes marijuana regulations “will make our communities safer.” Segerblom wrote about how our beliefs in individual liberties and limited government are in line with marijuana legalization, as well as concern for public safety. Legalizing and regulating marijuana will help eliminate illegal sales on the black market that benefit criminals, including the drug cartels in Mexico, making our streets safer. The recreational marijuana initiative will take marijuana out of the hands of criminals and shift control to Nevada businesses that pay taxes. Regulation will also help prevent marijuana from getting into the hands of teens and ensure quality control of marijuana products, something that’s been sorely lacking from the illegal market. For Segerblom, regulation means “Opportunity…to have a safer and more sensible approach to marijuana.”
Segerblom is not the only influential person/organization looking on the bright side of marijuana legalization. The Culinary Workers Union, Nevada’s largest labor union, just announced its support for marijuana legalization last week. The Clark County Commissioner, Washoe County Commissioner and the North Las Vegas City Councilman, are just a few of the many other influential supporters of Prop 2 in Nevada.
Many Nevada marijuana dispensaries are showing their support for marijuana legalization and even polling their patients. Although their patients’ support may not surprise anyone, it’s important to emphasize the level of support being polled. In fact, many Nevada voters polled at dispensaries are less concerned with who is being elected into office and more concerned with showing up to vote yes on question 2.
The size of the legal marijuana market in the United States is expected to continue to grow over $7 billion in 2016. That number is projected to grow to $22 billion by the year 2020. Wouldn’t you want Nevada to see some of that money? In a state that makes most of its money off the tourism industry and wants to spend nearly 2 billion for the new Raider football stadium, passing a recreational marijuana bill makes financial sense.
Supporters argue that legalizing and regulating marijuana will benefit the economy. The 15% tax on marijuana sales will go towards education, which isn’t getting much support currently and has led to Nevada being pretty low on the list for top ranked school districts. A recent analysis projected “legalizing marijuana in Nevada will lead to over $1.1 billion by 2024” with more than 50% of marijuana sales coming from tourists.
As Jeff Siegel wrote, “Dude, you live in Nevada! … Your entire state lives and dies by the revenue generated in Sin City.” This is an opportunity to put money into the school districts without having to raise taxes on Nevada residents. Although some argue that the revenue from “marijuana sales will be minor, at only $60 million annually,” we can’t help but think that it’s still $60 million more than we have right now.
Of course, there are some influential people/organizations who oppose recreational marijuana legalization. Some of the most obvious include the Las Vegas Review-Journal (although this was not always the case), the owner of the LVR-J Sheldon Adelson, Governor Brian Sandoval, Senator Dean Heller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto—just to name a few.
Another notable mention is the gaming industry. Why would this industry have an opinion on marijuana legalization? Because, as of right now, they cannot benefit from it until federal prohibition stops. While many of these influential people and organizations have openly stated their opposition to passing recreational marijuana in Nevada, very few have put their money where their mouth is in the state. Although Adelson has the money to spend, most of his money has gone towards stopping the medical marijuana initiative in Florida up and until now.
As we reported earlier, anti-marijuana campaigns have been rather in-active in Nevada thus far, which is surprising considering all the big names on the list of opposition for marijuana legalization. There has been some activity lately, as Adelson and others finally began to cough up some contribution money. Some Nevada residents may have also seen the commercial emphasizing the risk of children to swallow marijuana edibles without mentioning that regulations are already being put in place to deal with this potential problem. But this new ad and new donations haven’t stopped people from recognizing that marijuana prohibition is a failure, and there is a better way to go about preventing marijuana from getting into the hands of kids—through regulation.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about edible marijuana products getting into the hands of kids in Nevada if the recreational marijuana initiative passes. This problem is apparent because manufacturers have been known to make appealing edible products in fun shapes like gummy bears or stars. But this issue has already been addressed, and a bill has been proposed for next year’s legislation that ensures edible products are regulated and placed in plain, child-proof packaging.
Nevada is one of five states asking voters to vote on passing a recreational marijuana initiative this election. Another four states, plus the District of Columbia, already passed recreational marijuana bills in recent years. This is a big shift for the marijuana industry, considering just four years ago marijuana was illegal in every state. The amount of Americans who support legalizing marijuana is larger than ever before. Recent Nevada question 2 poll suggests that “question 2 will likely pass here in Nevada,” but not if people don’t get out and vote this election.
Which reminds us, just because you may not be happy with the presidential selections this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up to the polls on November 8th. There are many other initiatives to vote for, including recreational marijuana. Learn more about what the recreational marijuana initiative does and does not do here in Nevada. Then, get out and vote!
This article was brought to you by Las Vegas ReLeaf medical marijuana dispensary, a medical dispensary located just 500 feet from the Strip. Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of medical marijuana, see our latest marijuana product specials and order medical marijuana online today.