Monday August 1, 2016
Nevada may soon join the short list of 420-friendly states serving the recreational population. Shortly after implementing a medical marijuana market in the state, Nevada seems to be on track to legalize recreational cannabis sales with an estimated 60 percent of Nevada residents approving of the move. Though some concerns still exist regarding the potential program, cannabis legalization within the state may be just what Nevada needs to thrive in a struggling economy.
What is Question 2?
Recreational marijuana will be on Nevada’s November ballot as Question 2 and will be structured much like other recreational states. It would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Those who do not live within 25 miles of a dispensary would also be allowed to cultivate up to six plants (no more than 12 per residence) in a fully-enclosed, locked area and may be gifted to other adults without remuneration (though it would remain illegal to give cannabis to minors).
Cannabis sales, which would be regulated through the state, would come with an additional 15 percent sales tax which would be used to fund marijuana regulation efforts, k-12 schools and drug prevention policies with the remainder going into the state’s general fund.
Question 2 will NOT allow recreational marijuana use for people under the age of 21 nor will it allow public use, driving under the influence or other unlicensed cannabis activities. It will not interfere with employer policy regarding drug use or the medical marijuana program currently in place. Finally, (and perhaps most disappointingly) cannabis sales and use will not mix with Nevada’s gambling market as casinos must abide by both state and federal policies unless specifically noted.
Why Nevada Needs to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Las Vegas is one of the most tourism-dependent cities in the nation, gathering as much as 1/3 of its total income from the tourism industry alone. Though the number of annual visitors to the state has been steady for a few years, the appeal of gambling is dwindling with more and more people opting for live shows and restaurants over the potential to “win big” in casinos. This trend, of course, coincides nicely with the marijuana market as cannabis has been shown to improve creative thinking (and make even the crummiest show amazing) and foster a mean appetite in the process. If marijuana were to be legalized recreationally in the state, these businesses – along with the potential profit of the cannabis industry – could help diversify the economy to help the state out of its tourism funk.
Not only that, cannabis legalization could generate more than 3,300 new jobs by 2024 and generate as much as $464 million within its first seven years, of which roughly half would be generated by tourism. Considering the huge increase in state revenue coupled with the increase in jobs in the area, Nevada may finally have the incentives they’ve been hoping for to develop a diverse, successful economy with or without tourism.
Why the Nation Needs Nevada to Legalize Cannabis
Despite its reputation as “Sin City”, Las Vegas (and indeed all of Nevada) has been notoriously conservative when it comes to new policies (though it seems to be turning more liberal in recent years). If a conservative state like Nevada can legalize cannabis, more red states could soon follow.
Moreover, the Nevada cannabis market could help curb other dangerous activities like excessive drinking and reduce the mortality rate in the state. As it stands, Nevada ranks 47th in overall health due to factors like violent crime, public health funding and low employment rates. As we’ve seen in other 420-friendly states, the cannabis industry can help fund public health programs, promote job growth and reduce violent crimes making Nevada all the more appealing to tourists and residents alike.
Will Las Vegas Become the Ultimate Tourist Destination?
The birth of a marijuana market in the state could increase tourism appeal significantly. We’ve already seen how much of an impact legalization has had on other 420-friendly states, and Nevada’s marijuana market would be no different. With an estimated 41 million new customers, the recreational market in Nevada would offer a special appeal to vacationers looking to experience Vegas alongside a head high (bright lights are super vivid and music downright awesome when stoned, after all).
Though cannabis is currently disallowed in casinos (who must follow both state and federal law), High Times wants to be among the first to jump on the impending change – provided, of course, that new legislation is created to allow such a move. Should voters pass the initiative in November, the popular publication could establish themselves as the Playboy of the pot world, combining chronic with casino games like “Roll and Roulette” or “Craps and Blunts”. Only time will tell if this will work out, though, with its fate resting squarely on the shoulders of Nevada voters.
Public perception of cannabis is quickly changing to a positive one and Nevada is certainly no different. If voters approve of Question 2 this November, Nevada could become the go-to tourist destination without the health or economic risks that are so characteristic of the area.
Do you think Nevada should legalize marijuana recreationally? Why or why not?
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