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Nevada’s First Year of Legal Weed Sales Shatters Predictions

After 12 months of legal recreational cannabis, Nevada pot shops have doled out an estimated $500 million in medical and adult-use marijuana products.

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Last summer, Nevada legislators, community groups, and liquor distributors were up in arms about the Silver State’s decision to roll-out adult-use cannabis sales early, skipping the often years-long regulatory process that typically precedes the implementation of legal pot. Now, one year later, state officials and industry leaders are praising Nevada’s cannabis sector as the country’s “gold standard.”

According to a new report from the Associated Press, incoming cannabis industry data from June of this year is expected to push Nevada’s total pot profits over the $500 million mark in the 12 months since recreational sales began, surpassing initial predictions by more than 25%.

“I think it has been a huge success, and I don’t see how anyone could argue with that,” said Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association, told the Associated Press

Of the nearly half a billion dollars that has already been counted from Silver State dispensary tills, approximately $70 million will be turned over to state and local tax coffers, with some $25 million funneled directly to state school districts.

As neighboring California’s newly implemented adult-use market continues to struggle with new regulations, underwhelming sales, and lacking tax revenue, Nevada officials are proud of the Silver State’s quick and sustained success. In Alaska, recent legal weed sales data showed a record $11 million in annual tax revenue over the past year, less than half of Nevada’s collection.

“We are viewed by many others outside Nevada as essentially being the gold standard,” Nevada Taxation Department Director William Anderson told the AP. “It’s an often-used term, but it’s appropriate here.”

“The biggest surprise has been that there’ve been no surprises,” Nevada State Senator and vocal cannabis advocate Tick Segerblom added.

Still, despite the resounding success of Nevada’s marijuana market, cannabis industry insiders report a few remaining issues preventing the desert destination from turning into a total cannabis oasis. 

Most notably, the Silver State has struggled with social-use rules, with no place currently licensed by state regulators to welcome open cannabis consumption. Nevada regulations already ban marijuana in hotels and casinos, leaving the state’s millions of tourists largely out of luck.

Additionally, Nevada medical marijuana patients have argued that the state’s recreational market has pushed them to the side, with medical-specific products leaving dispensary shelves as high fees and taxes alienate the ill.

“Unfortunately, more money isn’t making the marijuana industry any kinder or more thoughtful,” Mona Lisa Samuelson, a Nevada MMJ advocate, told the AP. “Since recreational sales now far outweigh medical marijuana’s profitability, the patients’ concerns carry no political weight.”

Going forward, Sen. Segerblom is confident that regulators will be able to use the state’s recreational success to better help the state’s medical patients, while carrying the first year of unprecedented success into the future.

“I know people complain about the medical, that there has been less availability,” Segerblom said. “That is one of those things that is going to have to work its way through the system. With the recreational sales, there should be more money available for all kinds of products.”

Data for June, the final month of the Silver State’s first year with adult-use cannabis sales, will be available later this month from the Nevada Taxation Department. If past months are any indication, though, the late summer report will be covered in dollar signs.

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