CANNABIS CULTURE- This week, Canada’s Senate approved the Liberal government’s cannabis legalization bill. While this legislative hurdle is clear, many are concerned that over-regulation and government monopolies have hijacked the natural order away from true cannabis liberty.
Legal cannabis has worked, and is working in several jurisdictions worldwide. One of these places, Nevada, started with a rather rigid structure, and has since seen major windfalls from rolling back oppressive regulations.
Recreational cannabis legalization has turned out to be a great thing for Nevada since the legislation was passed in July of 2017. Legal sale of cannabis has had a number of positive effects for the state, many of which turned out to be surprising.
What has legalization done so far for Nevada, and what are its residents hoping it will do in the future?
Cannabis Businesses Finally in the Black
Medical cannabis has been available in the state of Nevada since 2000, but it was limited to individuals with a prescription, making it hard for dispensaries to turn a profit. That’s changed since recreational use was legalized. These businesses have seen a massive turn-around since legalization and are able to not only keep their doors open but also make a profit.
This change isn’t just good for dispensary owners. Business owners turning a profit is good for the local economy as well.
Taxes, Taxes and More Taxes
Taxes are the most commonly cited benefit of cannabis legalization for most states, and Nevada has proven that it isn’t all smoke and mirrors. Medical cannabis carries only a 10 percent tax — recreational cannabis carries that 10 percent as well as an additional 15 percent tax that’s collected by the state.
In the first six months alone, the State of Nevada collected more than $30 million in cannabis tax revenue on nearly $200 million in sales.
More Jobs and a Stronger Economy
Anything that brings new jobs to an area should be considered a positive, and that’s exactly what legalization has done for Nevada. The growth of the recreational cannabis industry has created more than 7,000 new jobs in the first five months alone, a number that’s continuing to grow.
That’s just in one single state — it’s estimated that if cannabis were legalized nationwide, it could create upwards of a million new jobs and generate more than $132 billion in tax revenue annually. For a country that’s constantly concerned about its national debt, this income could be an amazing break.
Real Estate Investments
The state isn’t the only thing that’s been raking in the green since legalization. Real estate is another industry benefiting from cannabis becoming legal. In the 10 months since cannabis was legalized in Nevada, investors have spent more than $300 million in real estate purchases alone.
It’s good for commercial property values as well. Orange County in California has watched its commercial property values double in the past year. The same thing has happened in Denver, where recreational use has been legal since 2014.
This real estate growth could spread even further if cannabis lounges — places where you can legally smoke or consume the product in public — are legalized. Currently, residents are only allowed to partake in the privacy of their own homes.
Changing Laws for the Better
Driving while high still counts as driving under the influence, and the legalization has prompted Nevada legislation to crack down on individuals who drive under the influence. A 2017 law eliminated saliva and urine tests for DUI arrests, leaving only the traditional field sobriety test as well as blood tests. If you drive in Nevada, you’re giving your implied consent for this blood test if you’re pulled over for a DUI, even if you’re not a Nevada resident.
This new process isn’t a bad thing. While driving under the influence of cannabis might not be as bad a driving drunk, it can still lead to car accidents because of reduced reaction time and impaired judgement. Safer laws are good. In fact, showing naysayers that we are taking a responsible approach to cannabis legalization can only help get them on our side.
Recently, a man in Florida — where cannabis has been legalized for medical use — had to sue the state for the right to grow his own cannabis plants because his doctor prescribed a juicing regimen to treat his medical condition. He won his case but is still fighting because the state has decided to try to appeal the decision.
In Nevada, if you live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary, you’re allowed to grow your own plants. As a result, it’s much more accessible for individuals who prefer to use the fresh plant rather than dried or processed products.
Recreational legalization also makes cannabis more accessible for individuals who want to use it as a medical treatment but could not qualify for a state medical card.
Some Medical Patients Option for Recreational
Recreational cannabis costs more than medical in most states. In Nevada, there’s a 10 percent sales tax on medical cannabis — and an additional 15 percent wholesale tax on recreational use. This price hasn’t stopped people from leaving their medical card at home and purchasing their cannabis under the recreational laws instead. Sure, it costs a little more, but it enables them to obtain their cannabis without a trip to the doctor or submitting their name to the state’s registry of medical cannabis users.
The number of medical cannabis users has dropped, but there are still plenty of people who are utilizing their medical card — namely people who need more cannabis than you can purchase under the recreational use laws or those under the age of 21 who use cannabis for medical reasons.
Cannabis legalization is turning out to be one of the best things that’s happened to Nevada in a long time. It’s good for the residents, the state and the local economy — and this is just the beginning, even though the federal government seems to be on the warpath against any state that legalizes this plant. States like Nevada, Colorado and Washington are showing the rest of the country that it’s possible and even beneficial to legalize cannabis for recreational use.