Nevada braces for legal marijuana industry boon, lawmakers to set rules

Recreational Marijuana 11/9/16 (Nathan O'Neal | KSNV)

Recreational marijuana will be legal in Nevada come January 1 after voters handily approved Question 2 on Tuesday with roughly 54 percent of the vote.

Nevada joins a wave of states to approve recreational marijuana for adults, painting the West Coast green from Washington to California.

“They’re prepared to meet what this market is going to demand,” said Matthew Gardiner, the Vice President of Shango Las Vegas, which is a medical pot dispensary boasting 72,000 square feet on Boulder Highway and Twain.

The seed to sale shop is bracing for a potentially billion dollar boost to businesses in Nevada.

“We will probably build out additional space in the very near future to meet what we expect,” said Gardiner.

While it will be legal on January 1 for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, it could be another year before the rules to govern the industry are in place.

“We will be going to the Legislature in February and we’ll have to work out all those details on how that works,” said Nevada State Sen. Mark Manendo.

Up to 80 retail stores could open up shop in Clark County alone – but first, lawmakers must hash out how to regulate issues like licensing, security, and product testing.

“[Nevada] is one of the more stringent in any of the markets that exist,” said Gardiner.

While the drug is still considered “dangerous” and illegal on the federal level, the industry still faces unique challenges like banking the profits.

“We have IRS guidelines that tell us how to file but at the same time we can't get a bank to do banking with us,” said Gardiner.

However, as the tide of public opinion on pot changes, experts believe the West Coast could be leading the way.

“California with 40 million people -- the federal government cannot crack down, it's going to be a done deal,” said Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom.

Industry experts expect it could take up to eight months or longer before all the rules are figured out but many believe there could be a race to the starting line between Nevada and California. The question is: who will get there first?

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