Recreational Marijuana Sales in Nevada Down Slightly But Still Ahead of Projections

Adult use marijuana sales in Nevada dipped from December to January, but are on track overall.

While growth of the adult use market in Nevada has fluctuated month-to-month since opening in July, it is still set to exceed the projected $63.5 million in revenue over two years of sales. In January, sales reached $32.8 million, a slight downturn from the $35.8 million worth of sales in December. Still, January sales were $8 million higher than the $24 million needed to stay on track in the state’s two-year budget.

Recreational marijuana customers pay a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana products in Nevada, all of which is placed in the state’s rainy day fund. In its first seven months, the industry has brought in $22.8 million in tax revenue.

Recreational Marijuana in Nevada

Nevada’s medical marijuana program began in 2000, and in 2016, voters approved recreational with over 54 percent voting yes. A 2016 report concluded that the state had the potential to sell $629.5 million worth of cannabis products by 2020 and also predicted tourists would be responsible for about 63% of the state’s sales.

The preliminary recreational program allows licensed medical dispensaries to also sell recreational marijuana, and dispensaries opened for business in July 2017 to long lines of excited customers. Many ran out their cannabis supplies in the first few weeks of legalization. Nevada law allows adults 21 and up to purchase and carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and homeowners to raise up to six plants per person, 12 total.

According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, Nevada sold over $195 million in products in its first six months, averaging more than $1 million in sales per day. October saw the highest sales, reaching nearly $38 million in one month. At $195 million, Nevada well exceeded other recreational states in its first six months of sales.

By contrast, Washington reached $67 million in cannabis sales in its first six months, while Colorado sales totaled $114 million. Las Vegas’s nearly 40 million yearly tourists have no doubt played a large role, and McCarran International Airport even created 20 so-called “amnesty boxes” for travelers to dispose of marijuana products before boarding flights home.

However, like all recreational marijuana states, Nevada only allows for private home use and prohibits consumption in public, which includes hotel rooms, the Las Vegas Strip, and restaurants. Those who break the law can receive a fine of up to $600 for the first offense.

The state is exploring the idea of cannabis lounges which would provide tourists with a legal place to consume when visiting, but is waiting to see how these establishments fare in states like Colorado and Massachusetts before moving forward.

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