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$60M in tax revenue projected as Nevada preps for recreational marijuana

A Las Vegas City Council committee has given the approval to let medical marijuana businesses also hold recreational licenses. (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

Nevada is just five days away from the start of recreational marijuana sales. It’s a new industry that’s projected to produce more than $60 million in tax revenue, according to the state’s estimates.

“I never thought it would happen but I’m so excited,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who is often referred to as the “Godfather of Weed” in Nevada.

Segerblom says the biggest unknown is how many people will buy into Nevada’s new cannabis industry.

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The campaign to legalize marijuana was built on the promise that the tax money collected would end up at Nevada schools. Voters approved Question 2 in November.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is banking on at least $60 million in tax revenue from the marijuana industry over the next two years. But this month, state lawmakers decided to put the pot tax money into the state’s rainy day fund.

“We’ve already budgeted the money. The money has already been budgeted for education,” said Segerblom.

RELATED | Nevada emergency regulations to allow July 1 retail marijuana sales


However, if marijuana sales surpass expectations, it complicates matters.

“We have to really pay attention because we don't want to have it diverted to places we don't want it,” said Segerblom.

In Colorado, voters were under the impression of a similar deal: marijuana taxes to boost Colorado schools.

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“Many people are scratching their heads and wondering, ‘Where’s our marijuana money? … from a parent standpoint,” said Henny Lasley of SMART Colorado, which advocates for children.

However, Colorado’s pot tax money ended up in a special fund – not quite what parents expected.

“It was truly a drop in the bucket,” said Lasley.

In the meantime, Nevada continues to gear up for the green rush.

“When something happens in Nevada especially in Las Vegas is a worldwide event,” said Segerblom.

Recreational pot sales begin on July 1 at certain Nevada dispensaries. There are several Las Vegas marijuana establishments that are planning midnight celebrations.

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