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Nevada Moving Swiftly to Regulate Adult Marijuana Sales

Recent statements from representatives of the Trump administration hinting of a coming marijuana enforcement crackdown have not deterred Nevada lawmakers from charging ahead with their plans to expedite retail sales of marijuana. The passage of Question 2 by Nevada voters on Nov. 8 legalized recreational use in the Silver State.

On Feb. 24, Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said that the agency intends to permit adult-use sales of marijuana starting July 1, six months ahead of schedule.

Under the proposed plan, state-licensed dispensaries (medical cannabis is legal in Nevada and 28 other states) would be permitted to sell cannabis to non-patients 21 and older under a set of temporary licensing regulations. The temporary licenses would be valid until the end of the year, when permanent regulations governing adult-use sales are expected to be in place.

Oregon lawmakers rolled out a similar scheme in 2016, permitting adults to temporarily obtain pot from existing dispensaries while lawmakers finalized regulations governing retail outfits.

The move by Nevada officials stands in sharp contrast to those of lawmakers in other states that recently voted in favor of adult use, such as Maine and Massachusetts, where politicians rushed to enact legislation delaying the implementation of retail cannabis sales. In California, lawmakers have hinted at potentially delaying retail sales until after the law’s intended January 1, 2018 deadline.

Such delays are not surprising in light of recent statements coming from the White House. On Feb. 23, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that the administration will likely engage in greater” efforts to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in jurisdictions that have legalized its adult use. On Feb. 27, speaking at a gathering of state Attorneys General, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for tougher drug law enforcement and stated, “[W]e don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom (D–Las Vegas) counters such statements. “From a political perspective, I know Trump is an idiot,” he says, “but if he goes after marijuana, he’s a true idiot.” He adds it would take sending in federal troops to stop Nevada from implementing Question 2.

The senator is also championing SB 236, which would regulate the social use of cannabis by adults in licensed establishments and at certain live events. Nevada residents can show their support for this bill by sending a letter to their elected representatives here.

On March 4–5, High Times staged their Cannabis Cup on an Indian reservation 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Due to a threatening letter sent to the organizers by U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, marijuana was forbidden from being used, available or displayed at the event. Though plenty of smoking took place, no arrests were made. Fierce wind conditions caused the second day on Mar. 5 to be canceled.

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