Highs, lows of legalized marijuana for Las Vegas - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU


Highs, lows of legalized marijuana for Las Vegas

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A marijuana leaf is seen in this undated file image. (FOX5) A marijuana leaf is seen in this undated file image. (FOX5)

Marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012. Colorado was the first state to legalize it, and that came with a whole set of challenges.

Officials say Las Vegas might also see many of the issues encountered in Colorado. There are plenty of areas, though, Las Vegas can learn from Colorado's mistakes. Five yeas after legalization, there are still some big pros and cons to recreational pot. 


1. Tax revenue.

In 2016, Colorado brought in $200 million in tax revenue because of the $1 billion in sales. Las Vegas would also reap the tax dollars, once legal selling happens. 

"People are smoking it anyway. Why not tax it!" Peter Williams, of Medicine Man Technologies, said

2. Tourism

Colorado broke its tourism record last year with more than 77 million visitors, generating $19 billion in revenue.

"Nevada is going to have a huge opportunity to capitalize on tourism," Ean Seeb, of Denver Relief Consulting, said.

3. Jobs

The marijuana industry has brought in thousands of jobs to Colorado - from law enforcement to dispensaries to government officials. Las Vegas could expect an even bigger job boom because of pot. 

"We started this company with $4,000 and half a pound of cannabis," Seeb said of his company. "It's rare someone gets to be involved in the creation of a new industry." 


1. Extra strain on law enforcement

The Denver Police Department says with the legalization of marijuana, they've had to expand its narcotics unit.

According to Lt. Andrew Howard, the department has seen an increase in the amount of people shipping marijuana out of the state, a spike in illegal home grows, and a problem with marijuana facilities being robbed or burglarize. 

"Large criminal organizations are moving to Colorado and hiding in plane sight," he said. "We've also had multiple butane hash explosions, similar to a meth lab. We're having explosions that are moving homes off their foundations because of marijuana."

The butane hash explosions Lt. Howard is referring to have to do with THC extraction, which is a process done to make more potent marijuana wax. 

2. Odor

Marijuana odor is a huge issue all over Colorado. It's become such an issue that state lawmakers have issued an odor ordinance. Businesses now have to fix up their smell or face penalties. 

3. Poison center calls

Emergency calls for children and adults concerning marijuana skyrocketed after legalization. One of the problems, which has now been fixed, had to do with edibles. Immediately after legalization, there were no labels or dosages required on edibles. 

"We found many of the candies looked like candy for kids and gummy bears and things like that," Denver District Attorney Beth McCann observed. "They would have marijuana in them, and kids would take them to school and teachers didn't know. There was a lot of concern for keeping kids away from edibles."

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's office also agreed edibles were a problem.

"I don't know if the state was caught by surprise by edibles, but they were extremely popular," Hickenlooper spokesman Mark Bolton said. "Someone would eat a cookie and there would be over 7 servings in that cookie, and people were ingesting too much THC at once."

Whether the roll out of marijuana has been successful remains up for debate.

"I just think it's too early too tell," said Bolton. "Really, at this point, we're just beginning to collect baseline data." 

Nevada lawmakers said they hope to have the rules and regulations figured out for a summer launch to begin selling recreational marijuana. 

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