Nevada legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2014 but the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) made it very clear that it did not want any gaming establishments that had received a gaming license or applied for a gaming license to be involved with the medical marijuana industry.
This year, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, otherwise known as Question 2 was put on the ballot to see if recreational marijuana would be legalized and on November 8 it received approval. Adults in Nevada will now be able to carry a 1/8 ounce of concentrated marijuana or one ounce of marijuana starting from 2017. The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) and the NGCB recently discussed the approval of Question 2 and how it could possibly impact the gaming industry in the state.
The issue of using marijuana at Nevada’s casinos was not put up for a formal vote but was only an item of discussion. While there were mixed reviews on whether casinos should allow patrons access to marijuana on their properties, the majority of board and commission members still stuck to their earlier view that the gaming industry should not have any ties to the marijuana industry.
In a statement, Tony Alamo, the Gaming Commission Chairman said “It comes down to something very simple. Maybe the emperor has no clothes. In no way do I feel comfortable in my role as regulator to allow a licensee to permit a felonious act to occur anywhere in their property.” Alamo’s views were backed by commissioners Deborah J. Fuetsch and Randolph Townsend.
According to the LasVegas Sun, Fuetsch admitted that she was afraid that the Question 2 ballot would be approved and she would have to deal with the use of marijuana at casino properties. She said personally she wasn’t comfortable that Question 2 was approved while Townsend believed that if the casino industry would open itself up to the marijuana industry, it could draw the attention of a federal investigation.
Before the commission meeting, the NGC organized a public workshop to discuss the pros and cons of the Question 2 ballot. The meeting was attended by a number of senior executives from different casinos in the state including Station Casinos and the Nevada Resort Association. Bill Young who is the head of security and the chief compliance officer for Station Casinos, asked the commission for guidance on the issue. Young also told the commission that he visited Colorado where recreational pot is legally and based on what he saw, he wasn’t in favor of allowing the casino industry in Nevada to be associated with the marijuana industry.
Chairman A.G. Burnett stated that while he had to respect the will of the people of Nevada in approving Question 2, he wasn’t willing to allow anything in Nevada’s casinos if it would violate federal law. The board also had to deal with issue of how casinos should react to their employees using marijuana and one commissioner addressed the issue by saying that some questions might have to be answered by judges and politicians.