Governor Brian Sandoval and his Gaming Policy Committee is exploring the possibility of hosting marijuana trade shows and conventions in Las Vegas.

The committee met in September 2017, but a decision was not reached. Sandoval, however, is hopeful that recommendations for regulations will be available by February 2018.

In the past, the Nevada Gaming Commission has discouraged casinos and resorts from allowing marijuana use due to possible legal backlash. However, a conference on the various aspects of the marijuana industry has gained the attention of the gambling industry.

Cassandra Farrington, founder of the MJBizCon, reported the event drew 18,000 people to the Las Vegas Convention Center, in August 2017. According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, these trade shows can generate millions in tax revenue. Deonne Contine told the committee that a convention of 15,000 people can have a $28.2 million impact.

However, attorney Brian Barnes reminded Sandoval that any business involving marijuana is illegal under federal law. Therefore, marijuana business in a casino could be considered money laundering.

Recreational marijuana sales, in Nevada, garnered $85 million in the first three months. There were 44 stores ready to open at midnight, on July 1, 2017.

California will be rolling out sales of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, 2018, with only a handful of stores prepared to handle the start of the new market. In fact, CEO of Oasis Cannabis, Ben Sillitoe in Las Vegas, is hoping California’s recreational sales will hinder black-market sales.

The illegal market, in California, sold $5.7 million, according to a study conducted by the University of California Agriculture Issues Center. Dispensary owners, including Sillitoe, believe a chunk of those sales comes from Nevada residents.

Legal dispensaries cannot compete with black-market prices because store owners are required to pay state taxes.

Will the legalization of recreational marijuana in California impact Nevada sales?

Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, in 2014, followed by Oregon in October 2015. Counties that bordered the states saw a 47 percent decline in Washington sales, in the first three months. However, outside of those counties, sales in Washington continued to soar. Since Oregon’s marijuana market opened, Washington’s excise tax receipts have risen from $14 million per month to $28 million in October 2017.

Spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Taxation Stephanie Klapstein, said the state will monitor the border communities for impact. The Tax Department has not done any formal research into the possible impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis in California, however, there are plans to watch a variety of areas, once data can be collected.

By Jeanette Smith

Sources:

VOA: Nevada Gambling Leaders Grapple with Pot’s Future in Casinos
Las Vegas Review-Journal: California may not be biggest threat to Nevada marijuana market

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