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PUFF PUFF PASS, NOT SO FAST!

PUFF PUFF PASS, NOT SO FAST!
By Eddie Rivkin

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Why does Clark County and Las Vegas continue to delay the implementation of Medical Marijuana, even though the voters passed it? Is it fear of the unknown? A deep-seated moral objection? Greed? – as in the local government hasn’t figured out how to maximize the tax rate? Or most nefariously, are they secretly figuring out a way to NEVER, EVER allow a single dispensary to open in Clark County?

Now, before you all say: “The voters voted, a law was passed and signed, etc.,” and all the other politically astute things we were all taught in high school government class, allow me to enlighten you. Laws have, since the beginning of time, had loopholes. I would venture to estimate 90% of laws probably have them. The IRS tax code has literally THOUSANDS of them. OBAMACARE has a bunch, and we are finding more every single day, now that we are finally allowed to read the bill. Every bill that passes through Congress is laden with pork barrel spending. Even politicians (trustworthy as they are when they say: “No additional spending,”) stuff bills full of millions and billions of dollars for their home states and cities’ pet projects. This is different. The loophole is specifically designed as an “out,” to allow all cities in Clark County the ability to NEVER open, even a single dispensary if the say choose, and with the voters having nary a say in the matter.

But instead of giving you the big reveal right here, right now, and considerably shortening the length of this article, I am going to go ahead and build the case for why these cities MUST follow the will of the people! Remember back in high school there was a section on the test where you had to match something from left column with something on the right? Well, here it is. Get 6 for 6 correct and I’ll buy your first legal bong rip!! The subject is:
Estimated Revenue from the LEGAL sale of Marijuana

1. 33.5-million
2. 67-million
3. 2-billion (5m+ estimated sales tax)
4. 1.9-billion in 5 years
5. 8.7-billion
6. 1.3-million (3% of biz tax revenue)

Regardless if you answered none or all 6 correct, the point is the staggering amount of revenue and taxes that will be generated by the legal sale of Medical Marijuana and possibly the outright decriminalization of it.
So let us examine the first possible reason they are delaying the implementation of the laws: fear of the unknown. Frankly, this is a total bullshit excuse. The legalization of Medical Marijuana in Nevada has been brewing for almost a decade. In fact, even the most conservative, anti-drug advocates concede it was only a matter of time. Saying they need an additional six months (maybe more) to research and write all the laws, in my opinion, is a blatant lie. Our neighbor to the West, (California), legalized Medical Marijuana in 1996! In the 18 years since, there have been literally millions of words written about it. Models and templates are available from California, Colorado and Washington State. God forbid they take this seriously and see what Amsterdam has been doing! Now obviously every state is different. That isn’t a question or a valid point. Why not examine what all of them are doing and adapt it to what works best here in Nevada? Why spend an excess of taxpayer money and try to reinvent the wheel? Why cause (more) ill-will with the voters who already don’t trust you? The answer is there is no reason.

Here are some remarkable figures about the costs of enforcing marijuana laws and the value of legalizing it. (No test this time, as I hope all of you are happily faded while reading this!)

If Marijuana is legalized:
• It will save governments 13.7 BILLION spent on enforcement!
• It will save the government 1 BILLION for the cost of those imprisoned on marijuana offenses!
• The prohibition of marijuana costs American taxpayers 41.8 BILLION ANNUALLY!
• The marijuana crop is estimated at 14 BILLION in California (its most valuable plant/crop!)
• 36 BILLION is the estimated value of the illegal marijuana industry worldwide!
• The Mendocino Sheriff’s Department raised $600,000 in taxes on permits for each plant.
• Economist Stephen Easton estimates the legalized Marijuana industry to be valued at 45-100
BILLION ANNUALLY
• Corporate store, weGrow, creates 75 jobs for each and every store they open!

The next possible reason for delaying the implementation of the will of the people is fear of the unknown. Let’s face it: most politicians are considered “older” and conservative by the younger generations. There is nothing wrong with being older, (I am) or for that matter, being conservative (again, I am). What I do not understand are how these politicians, Republican and Democrat, Libertarian and Tea Party, alike, who all lived through the ‘60s and ‘70s, suddenly have no idea whatsoever what this drug is all about. I’d wager there is nary a one of them who hasn’t tried it at some point in the experimental years! Sure, marijuana has evolved, as has everything. And thank whoever you pray to, the days of Mexican Dirt Weed are long gone! The sudden pleas of not enough knowledge or information are laughable, as are the irrational delays in opening the 40 dispensaries allowed by law.

The third possible reason is the most dangerous to the consumer. Is the government taking all this extra time concocting a scheme to suck out every possible cent in taxes allowable? Sadly, I am sure this is the case in Nevada. In addition to making legal marijuana the absolute most expensive it can be, Nevada is likely going to so over-regulate it, that entrepreneurs will find the climate frigid when it comes to applying for and opening a dispensary. One of the three mayors in Clark County has said she wants the dispensaries to be non-profits!!! Really?! What possible reason should a person not be able to profit from having to invest upwards of a MILLION DOLLARS to open a dispensary? There’s more bullshit stuffed into that statement than at the National Finals Rodeo!!! And it’s more comical than Slick Willy saying, “I didn’t inhale.”

If you’ve made it this far, your reward is learning the reason that, while being legal in Nevada, there may never be one, single, Medical Marijuana dispensary opened EVER and there is nothing you can do about it! Remember earlier I told you about a loophole in the law? This one is a doozey. According to the law, the mayors of the individual cities have total control as to the zoning regulations and ordinances that are required to open a dispensary and/or growing facility. In layman’s terms, Mayor Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas, Mayor Andy Hafen of Henderson, and Mayor John J. Lee of North Las Vegas, along with their councils and commissions, if they so chose, can create regulations and ordinances that prohibit the opening of a dispensary in their cities. Now, is it likely, or even possible, that one or all of the mayors would consider such a plan? I hope not, but by no stretch of the imagination am I naïve enough to believe they haven’t thought about it, discussed it, or even ran the idea by legal counsel. Nonetheless, the loophole exists and we all know how much politicians LOVE loopholes! As it stands today prior to publishing, the application process for the 40 dispensary licenses were to commence in January of 2014, with the first scheduled to open in April or May. All you need to do is have $250,000 in liquid cash on hand (and about 50 other stipulations) and be willing to pony up $40-$50,000 for background checks and licensing fees. In the immortal words of Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House: “WHO’S WITH ME?” If I were a betting man (and I am) I’d wager there will be way more than 40 (closer to 75) applications. I will also bet, the government will not make its self-imposed deadlines of January and April /May. (Sounds a lot like Obamacare, doesn’t it?) I bet the first dispensary opens in the fourth quarter of 2014, or early in 2015, and that all 40 will be open within 18 months of the first one. In the first operational year, Clark County will see tax revenues between $5-10 million, and that will grow steadily year over year until 2020, at which point the greed of the politicians and the allure of the almighty dollar will mellow the objections and prove so irresistible, that Nevada will legalize recreational marijuana use! Look who’s the flying high optimist now! Once that happens, there will be plenty of money to go around for schools, police, and all the important issues we cannot currently address due to fiscal restraints. I do not believe that medical marijuana is the cure for Nevada’s fiscal woes, but you bet your ass it will be a very pleasant medication to help us feel better on the way to finding the cure!

Medical marijuana is turning into quite a quagmire issue in Nevada and it need not be. No one thinks or wants this to turn into the Wild Wild West, and it won’t. Simply regulate marijuana manufacturing, sales and taxation. Establish fair conditions for entrepreneurs to build and operate businesses. Allow them to create jobs, be successful, and provide a medicine to those in need, who will benefit greatly from accessing it legally. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so, but what do I know? I’m high as a kite and snacking on Twinkies while I write this. Almost forgot, the answers to the quiz are: 1-F, 2-D, 3-A, 4-B, 5-C, 6-E How many bong rips am I buying?

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