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Nevada marijuana industry fearful of government raids amid fed’s policy change

Nevada marijuana industry fearful of government raids amid fed’s policy change (Nathan O'Neal | KSNV)

Nevada’s booming marijuana industry could be in jeopardy with a major policy change by the federal government.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back Obama-era policies to not interfere with marijuana-friendly state laws.

It’s a decision that took many people in Nevada’s marijuana industry by surprise and incited fear of government raids and arrests.

“I just feel like this industry is about risk in general,” said RaRa Rivera, who is one of the thousands of workers employed at local dispensaries. “It’s scary because you don’t know what they have the power to do.”

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders addressed the development briefly Thursday.

“The President’s position hasn’t changed but he does strongly believe that we have to enforce federal law,” said Sanders.

Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom, who was instrumental in the legal marijuana movement said he was caught off guard by the announcement.

“I tell consumers, run down buy as much [cannabis] as you can today because it might not be available tomorrow,” said Segerblom. “If the government came in and arrested one person then everyone would shut down tomorrow then everybody's out of work.”

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However, that would be a worst case scenario per John Mueller of Acres Cannabis.

“They basically have no money to go after guys like us,” said Mueller.

Cannabis consultant Jason Sturtsman admits that the industry is spooked.

“You have some worried individuals calling their attorneys right now trying to get guidance,” said Sturtsman.

One of those attorneys is Derek Connor.

Connor represents a number of dispensary owners and says he’s been busy today.

“The feds don’t care if a state legalizes marijuana for medical or recreational purposes,” Connor told us. “Marijuana as far as the feds are concerned is a schedule one drug as dangerous as heroin. If they want to take anyone down they're perfectly in their legal abilities to do so.”

Connor doesn’t believe they will kick down the doors. He hopes the announcement Thursday will spur Congress to make decisions and give states like Nevada more direction.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said Nevada is a “model for other states,” adding that he and his staff will review the state’s options moving forward.

However, the fate of Nevada’s marijuana industry could hinge on the whim of federal prosecutors. On Wednesday, Sessions appointed a new U.S. Attorney for Nevada.


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