Nevada voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to not only decide between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but also whether their state should join a handful of others that have legalized recreational marijuana.
According to a report from the non-profit Public Broadcasting Service, Nevada has allowed medical marijuana since 2000 but the latest question set to face voters on November 8 could someday see the drug allowed at Las Vegas’ glamorous nightclubs and perhaps provide the framework for a future Amsterdam-style cannabis district.
“I really think this would be the third-largest market in the country,” Derek Peterson, who runs marijuana dispensary firm Blum, told the Public Broadcasting Service. “I think it should be able to fit in really well with the whole day club [and] nightclub thing.”
Peterson predicts that only California and New York could offer a bigger customer base than Las Vegas with its 42 million annual tourists while explaining that recreational marijuana would offer an alternative to visitors often exasperated at paying up to $15 for a single cocktail.
However, the broadcaster reported that marijuana proponents are facing an uphill battle with voters after the Nevada Resort Association came out against the measure while billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has spent an estimated $2 million of his own money in hopes of convincing Nevadans to reject legalization.
“I don’t know that this is a game changer in terms of tourism,” Virginia Valentine, President for the Nevada Resort Association, told the public broadcaster. “We’re really known for other things. You may attract people or turn them off.”
If passed, Nevada’s ballot initiative would not allow municipalities to place blanket bans on marijuana, as is the case in Colorado, but it would bar consumption in buildings open to the public and permit local governments to restrict the location of dispensaries and related businesses. It would moreover effectively block people from growing their own plants by banning the practice within 25 miles of a licensed marijuana store although some of these provisions could be changed three years after ratification.
“I think it will be as much of a challenge for us as it will be a boon for us because there’s no place in the world like Vegas,” Dina Titus, a Democratic member of the United States House Of Representatives whose urban district includes the Las Vegas Strip, told the Public Broadcasting Service. “I think it’s going to take a while to work it out.”
In the meantime, one Nevada lawmaker has requested legislation in the spring that would legalize Amsterdam-style marijuana coffee shops and permit the drug to be enjoyed in other public places. Democratic Nevada State Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom told the broadcaster that he envisions creating a pedestrian-centric outdoor entertainment district in Las Vegas to give visitors a new “only-in-Vegas” experience centered around cannabis.
“It’s somewhere you do things you wouldn’t normally do,” said Segerblom. “Have fun, party, do things you wouldn’t do at home. Take a picture and brag about it.”