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Recreational Marijuana Goes on Sale in Nevada

There were long lines in Nevada, as licensed dispensaries started selling recreational cannabis on Saturday.

Legal recreational marijuana went on sale in Nevada at midnight Saturday. Nevada’s marijuana law, approved by voters in November 2016, permits adults aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

Hundreds of people waited in lines for hours Friday night to purchase their first legal marijuana as many dispensaries opened from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. In Las Vegas, green fireworks helped celebrate the occasion. State Senator Tick Segerblom , considered the “godfather of the marijuana movement” in Nevada, was in line to make the first purchase at Las Vegas dispensary, Shango Premium.

There was concern that a judge order to give alcohol wholesalers exclusive rights to distribution for 18 months would delay the launch of the state’s first marijuana sales, but Gov. Brian Sandoval signed an emergency regulation to allow some existing medical dispensaries to sell to adult use consumers July 1.

Earlier last week, the Nevada Tax Commission also approved emergency regulations with new labeling and packaging regulations designed to protect children. No products can feature images that are typically used when marketing to children, such as animals, cartoon characters, or fruit. Additionally, labels must include the wording, “This is a marijuana product,” and “Keep out of reach of children.”

Nevada’s early recreational marijuana program, which allows licensed medical dispensaries to sell adult use cannabis, will run through January. The full recreational marijuana program is scheduled to start in 2018.

Recreational and Medical Marijuana

Medical dispensaries expect to have enough cannabis supply to meet demand for at least three weeks. The state anticipates that some alcohol wholesalers will have obtained their distribution licenses by that time.

“I get the sense that most, if not all, dispensaries will have sufficient inventory to serve retail customers until distributors are up and running,” Nevada Dispensary Association President Andrew Jolley told The Cannabist.

Nevada’s marijuana market is expected to outpace others that are active in the United States, due to the 40 million tourists that visit Las Vegas every year. Nevada officials estimate that tourists will make 63 percent of recreational sales. A market research report conducted last year projected that Nevada would reach nearly $630 million in legal cannabis sales by 2020.

Consuming marijuana in public is illegal and subject to a $600 fine for a first offense. Marijuana can only be used in a private home, including yards and porches. Because the lack of places to use cannabis for tourists, many in the industry believe edibles, which can be consumed more discreetly, will be most popular. Homeowners are also allowed to grow six plants per person, up to 12 plants total.

Nevada is one of eight U.S. states that have passed laws legalizing the possession and use of adult use cannabis. Nationwide public support for legalization is currently at an all-time high and recently market analysts suggested that every state could have legal marijuana by 2021.

Learn more about cannabis laws in Nevada and throughout the U.S. by visiting our education page.