Next Steps for Legal Cannabis in Nevada

Next Steps for Legal Cannabis in Nevada

Image Credit: West facade and south side, 1875 - Nevada State Capitol, Carson City, NV - Nevada State Museum

by Brian Bahouth

An audio interview with Nevada state Senator Tick Segerblom below …

A Nevada delegation has just returned from a 2 day cannabis fact-finding mission in Oregon. The contingent of lawmakers, lawyers, lobbyists and Nevada cannabis industry stakeholders studied how Oregon opened select medical cannabis dispensaries to the general adult public following the passage of a ballot initiative to regulate cannabis like alcohol in 2014.

Cannabis possesion and adult use became legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015, and the move to open medical dispensaries to the broader adult public was intended to undermine the formation of illegal markets and raise tax revenue while the complex ballot initiative was being implemented and adult possession and use was legal.

SB 460, passed during the 2015 legislature, authorized 400 participating medical cannabis dispensaries in Oregon to sell limited products in limited amounts to people 21 and older beginning January 4, 2016.  A 25% tax was added for adult-use purchases, and medical patients continue to buy tax free.

As of September 30, 2016, the Oregon Department of Revenue has collected $40.2 million dollars in marijuana tax payments, an unexpectedly large amount.

Nevada is now in the same situation.  On January 1, 2017, adults in Nevada will able to legally possess and privately consume up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower or 1/8th an ounce of cannabis concentrates, but a system of regulated adult-use retail stores will not, at very best temporary rule-making speed, begin issuing adult-use retail, cultivation or processing licenses until fall of 2017. 

Nevada state Senator Tick Segerblom is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and led the delegation to Oregon along with fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Steve Yeager. I spoke with Senator Segerblom about what the group learned in Oregon and the bill being drafted that would, like Oregon, open Nevada’s system of roughly 50 medical dispensaries to the general adult public, 21 and older, as soon as possible … 7:20 …

The legislative challenge is complicated by the fact that such a bill would implement a new tax, so a 2/3rds majority would be required for passage in both the Senate and Assembly, and even though Democrats control both houses, bi-partisan support would be required for passage.

If such a bill were made law, the added regulatory burden would be light considering medical dispensaries in Nevada already collect 7% sales tax, so conceivably, if a bill made it to the governor’s desk next session, and he signed it, existing dispensaries could more broadly serve the adult public as early as summer 2017.

Music credits:
Song: Interplay
Artist: Bill Evans