1 Year On, It’s Easy to Find Cannabis in Nevada–Maybe Too Easy

The state tax department has taken in nearly $50 in revenue through the first nine months, and just one retail store has been subject to disciplinary action.

The only bad news is in the region of unlicensed sales. Police officials estimate the illicit cannabis market in Las Vegas has tripled since licensed retailers opened their doors last July 1.

Pop-Up Trade stinks

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sgt. Randy Dockery said rather than selling illegally at popular cannabis festivals in Southern Nevada such as the annual High Times Cannabis Cup or Las Vegas Hemp Fest, more unlicensed sellers are now hosting “pop-up markets” in rented warehouses and banquet facilities. The marketplaces, which may feature up to 25 vendors selling everything from cannabis flower to potato chips, often occur on weekends, lasting only a few hours before sellers count their earnings and head home.

Illicit sellers can “easily fool” a few of those 42 million annual visitors to Las Vegas, Dockery said. They present themselves as authorized retailers, passing out business cards in popular visitor areas such as the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street. And many such tourists are fooled, thinking marijuana is legal no matter where they buy it.

… buying it isn’t illegal, so long as it is less than an ounce.

Sgt. Randy Dockery, Las Vegas Metro Police

“Actually, purchasing it isn’t illegal, as long as it’s less than an ounce,” Dockery said. “The people selling the plant are those committing the crime, and they’re well aware that what they’re doing is prohibited. ”

He explained anywhere from two to five such pop-up markets occur in a given weekend across the Las Vegas Valley.

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Otherwise Things Are Good

Despite the challenges with the illicit market, Nevada officials and state license holders say the industry has been successful.

The state recorded $304.7 million in earnings for the first nine months of adult-use sales. Collections from a 15 percent state wholesale tax on marijuana shipments from cultivators and manufacturing facilities to dispensaries, as well as a 10 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales generated 97 percent of 12-month quotes through only nine months of earnings, according to most recent statistics available from the Nevada Department of Taxation. When final tax tallies for the first year are released in September, state officials say the 12-month tax figures could exceed initial projections of just over $50 million by up to 45 percent. That would equate to nearly $6 million raised in marijuana taxes per month, compared to about $4.2 million estimated last year from the financial office of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Only one of those 61 open dispensaries in Nevada have been subject to discipline from the Nevada Department of Taxation, as well as two of the state’s 115 working cultivators and four of its nine laboratory testing facilities. All those facilities, which temporarily had their state licenses suspended, are open for business.

The Source dispensary in Las Vegas competes with a robust black market. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
A customer shops at The Source dispensary in Las Vegas, which competes with a strong black market. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

A taxation department survey of dispensary owners statewide said about half of marijuana sales are on blossom. Concentrates make up 25 percent of earnings, while edibles accounts for just under 13 percent of products purchased by recreational buyers. Pre-rolls accounted for 10 percent, and the last three percent of sales came from medical products such as suppositories and tinctures. As many as 8,500 jobs have been created by Nevada’s legal cannabis industry between both recreational and medicinal marijuana, and over $300 million has been invested by weed companies in Nevada property, according to numbers from the Nevada Dispensary Association.

NDA Executive Director Riana Durrett stated for Nevada’s cannabis business to keep on advancing in the next 12 months, “stabilization” and supplanting the black market are its top two priorities.

“Nevada’s industry has excelled,” she said.

Published at Fri, 29 Jun 2018 17:36:45 +0000

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