The Silver State went green in 2017, becoming the fifth state to have legal recreational marijuana sales in the U.S.
Of all the eight states, and Washington, D.C., to have legalized recreational marijuana since 2014, the Silver State bravely turned around the fastest sales following its 2016 vote. With that said, just as Nevada has made headlines for some of its accomplishments, it has done the same for some of its blunders.
Here’s a look back at some top pot headlines in Nevada since the beginning of the year:
On Jan. 1, 2017, all adults 21 and over earned the right to possess and/or consume up to an ounce of marijuana and an eighth-ounce of concentrate. Nevada had the chance to become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2002, but voters turned it down and did so again in 2006. During the November 2016 election, 54 percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, legalizing recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana previously became legal in Nevada in 2000 and became available in stores 14 years later when cannabis dispensaries first were allowed to open.
One of the world’s largest marijuana festivals, held on tribal land outside of Las Vegas in March 2017, faced a possible shutdown when U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, based in Las Vegas, sent a Feb. 16 letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe reminding the tribe that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law. The marijuana trade show and festival took place, but without any ganja in plain sight.
On July 1, 2017, Nevada dispensaries kicked off the first legal sales of recreational marijuana at midnight across the state. Lines were around the corner. Approximately 40 dispensaries acquired temporary licenses to sell recreational product by the time midnight sales began. Nearly 60 stores in Nevada now sell recreational product, including 10 in Washoe County.
Nevada blushed as its stores started to run out of its newest cash crop less than a week after the legal market came to life, according to the state Department of Taxation. Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed a “statement of emergency” allowing state taxation officials to consider adopting an emergency regulation that could alleviate the shortage.
BATTLE WITH BOOZE
Why was Nevada running out of pot to sell? It was not for lack of product, but instead an issue with distributors because there were none. A small group of wholesale alcohol distributors gave money to the marijuana legalization campaign at its start, which inspired language in Question 2 that entitled distributors to exclusive rights to deliver recreational marijuana to dispensaries for the first 18 months of legal sales. Problem was, in July none of them were prepared. It turned into a continuing court battle.
DOLLA DOLLA BILLS
Dispensaries sold $27.1 million of pot in Nevada, in July alone, almost double what both Colorado and Oregon sold in their first months and almost seven times what Washington sold. Gov. Brian Sandoval has projected that, between its two-year old medical marijuana industry and the now upright recreational marijuana industry, the state could pull in approximately $100 million over the next two fiscal years from both taxes and fees. A portion of taxes go towards education and government resources, and another portion goes toward the state’s rainy day fund.
KNOW THE LAWS
The 2017 Nevada Legislature session set a lot of marijuana policy in-state. Lawmakers wrote tax law, regulations to prevent products falling in the hands of youth and rules for American Indian tribes that want to open marijuana establishments.