Nevada starts sale of recreational marijuana

A participant practices rolling a joint at the Cannabis Carnivalus 4/20 event in Seattle, Washington, U.S. on April 20, 2014. Photo by Jason Redmond/Reuters

As of midnight Saturday, recreational marijuana is legally available for purchase in Nevada.

Following November's ballot measure to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana, which was supported by about 55 percent of voters, dispensaries may now sell their products to any ID-carrying person over 21 years of age.

Legalization, won after a long national and statewide campaign, is expected to bring a tourism boom to the state. Las Vegas, where the majority of the approximately 40 dispensaries approved by the state are located, stands to benefit most, bolstering its Sin City reputation.

Compared to the other states where the sale of recreational marijuana is legal — Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado — industry experts predict Nevada will have the highest sales due to the volume of tourists it receives each year. More than 40 million tourists visited Las Vegas last year.

"Everything we know shows that millennials are very pro-marijuana, and that's the new marketing push," Nevada state Sen. Tick Segerblom, a longtime legalization advocate, told the Las Vegas Sun. "This is a game-changer for Las Vegas and tourism here as far as I'm concerned."

While the sale of marijuana has been legalized, public consumption has not. Nevada allows for consumption of marijuana only in private residences, a classification that currently excludes casinos. Nor can tourists or residents smoke in their hotel rooms or on the Las Vegas Strip.

Despite permissive rules on purchasing, police officials are committed to enforcement on public consumption, even for tourists. "It's expected that when you visit somewhere you do know the laws," a spokesperson for the Las Vegas police department told the Associated Press. "It's up to the public to be educated. It's not up to us to proactively go to tourists and tell them what the law is."

All marijuana sold will be heavily taxed, with an excise tax of 10 percent added for recreational marijuana. In Las Vegas, as much as one-third of the purchase cost of recreational marijuana will go toward taxes. The state's tax department anticipates up to $60 million in tax revenues by summer 2019, MarketWatch reported.

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