Tourist money has been king in Las Vegas for a long time, but now marijuana sales are expected to soar and help pay for infrastructure throughout the entire state of Nevada. Many state officials are expected to be standing in line along with those tourists today as recreational marijuana became available to the public at midnight last night.
Nevada can finally take back its reputation of most sinful state from Colorado when adult use marijuana sales will be legal as of July 1. Sales will begin at midnight on Friday. Adults over the age of 21 with legal identification will be allowed to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana-infused edibles or concentrates from licensed marijuana retail outlets.
The day almost got derailed when a judge in Carson City last week ruled that the law voters approved required alcohol distributors to have the exclusive rights for marijuana distribution for the first 18 months. Transporting medical marijuana doesn’t require a distribution license. The last minute ruling along with an emergency regulation regarding packaging had operators scrambling to make sure they were in compliance by July 1. Many were stocking up on inventory just in case there were distributor problems.
Baker, a cannabis retail software company used by many dispensaries said one of its partners, Blackbird Logistics was able to get an alcohol distribution license and continue their delivery business. Baker Chief Executive Officer Joel Milton said he expects that 80-90 % of the revenue from marijuana sales will come from tourists, citing the fact that 70% of medical marijuana sales in the state are already from out-of state visitors.
Economic and Fiscal Benefits Analysis prepared by Las Vegas-based RCG Economics in conjunction with the Marijuana Policy Group predicts that the state will reap $393 million in annual sales of adult-use marijuana in 2018 and that will increase to $485 million by 2024. Schools are expected to receive $20 million a year from the estimated $60 million in tax revenues. The new industry is expected to bring 3,300 jobs.
Colorado’s boom in tourism began when it legalized adult use marijuana and tourists flocked there for the novelty of buying legal marijuana. That did not go unnoticed by Nevada, which prides itself on questionable behavior. Last year, Colorado was on the top 10 list of tourism-drawing states, according to the Colorado Tourism Office – something that hasn’t happened in 22 years. In 2016, the state pulled in 82.4 million visitors who spent $19.7 billion versus Nevada’s travel spending of $3.23 billion.
“The marijuana prohibition era is finally coming to an end in Nevada,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which backed Question 2, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol. It was approved by approximately 54.5% of Nevada voters in November. MPP supported similar, unsuccessful initiatives in Nevada in 2002 and 2006. “Adults will now be able to purchase marijuana similarly to how they purchase alcohol, from regulated businesses rather than criminals in the illegal market,” he said.