Recreational Cannabis in Arizona From Prop 207 Initiative

Recreational Cannabis in Arizona From Prop 207 Initiative
Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, was voted in on November 3, 2020. It has been coined “Recreational Marijuana,” but is this a fair assessment? After all, recreation brings to mind pleasure and fun.

In reality, the Smart and Safe Act is much more than recreational marijuana. At its core, it focuses on bringing about economic, political, and social repair in Arizona communities. It no longer limits the plant’s application to specific severe medical conditions but allows its use by all responsible adults.

The thought process behind this was to address the consequences of illegal cannabis use, resulting in overcrowded prisons filled with nonviolent offenders. In doing so, the freedom of choice is not only restored but civil rights as well. The Act breaks down the economic and racial disparities stemming from felony convictions that occur with charges stemming from possession. It further reduces animosity between communities and the law enforcement in place to protect them by legalizing what most deem to be a safer alternative to alcohol.

When thought of in this way, the term recreational marijuana is unfitting. It does not give credit to a truly historical moment in Arizona history. Nonetheless, a more in-depth look into the term’s origin might change one’s mind about the term, as its foundation is found in healing. It has been used to describe a person being cured of a disease, recovery from sickness, and invigoration, refreshment, and restoration.

Activists and industry have bridged the divide and imbalances between government and people with Smart and Safe. Communities can be healed from inequalities that cause disparaging consequences as the laws align with long-held beliefs. Economies can be re-invigorated, and faith in democracy can begin to be restored.

The war has impacted many families and lives on drugs. In 2010, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act began to shed some light at the end of an otherwise dark tunnel. And now, with the passing of the 2020 Smart and Safe Arizona Act, we see a full light on the path to recovery from all of the pain inflicted before. This recovery is being built on a bedrock of cooperation, medicine, tolerance, understanding, and unity of all.

Harvest Health & Recreation was a start-up in 2012 that requested me to share botanical medicine and cannabis culture knowledge. Since that time, I have worked with business stakeholders, government representatives, industry leaders, and medical organizations to assist patients in our community in gaining access to safe cannabis in an informed manner.

There have been many medical success stories along the way. Along with them has come a renewed hope and optimism for the future use of this wonderful plant in all of its forms, be it medical or leisure, fiber or fuel, food or spirituality. This expanded access, by whatever name you call it, is the healthiest option for our community.

Las Vegas Marijuana Dispensary Sells to Canadian Investors

Las Vegas Marijuana Dispensary Sells to Canadian Investors

Nevada Organic Remedies, one of the most prominent marijuana businesses in the Las Vegas Valley, recently sold a majority of its ownership of the expanding pot industry in Nevada to Canadian investors for $56 million.

The Las Vegas company operates their dispensaries, called The Source, in Las Vegas and Henderson. The company also operates two cultivation plants and a production facility in the central valley that is over 2500 square feet in size. The company has recently made a deal with Green Growth Brands which is based in Toronto. The expected date that the deal will close is Sept. 7.

The deal proposes that the two cultivation facilities, the dispensary in Las Vegas and the production facility, will be owned by Green Growth Brands. The Toronto company will also gain a license to distribute marijuana to Nevada dispensaries. After the deal goes into effect, Nevada Organic Remedies will still own the dispensary in Henderson NV and a growing facility in Pahrump.

Stephanie Klapstein, the spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Taxation, has confirmed that the owners of marijuana facilities in Nevada are allowed to transfer licenses to investors who are based out of state. According to Klapstein, an increase in out-of-state license transfers has resulted from recreational marijuana sales that started on July 1, 2017.

The co-owner and CEO of Nevada Organic Remedies, Andrew Jolley, has remarked to the fact that the company possesses a great amount of expertise that new investors can benefit from. The existing management and ownership team will remain on board to assist the Toronto company as they take over operations of the facilities and dispensaries. They also plan to remain to assist during future expansions. However, no comments about the transaction have been forthcoming from representatives of the Toronto-based company.

The Source dispensaries that have operated in Henderson and Las Vegas since 2015 serve over 800 customers per day. Andrew Jolley Has been President of the Nevada Dispensary Association since 2016. It is the largest marijuana advocacy organization in the state.

In addition to this company sale, there was another recent similar transaction that took place that involved ownership transferals to companies in Canada. The Silver State Relief marijuana company based in Reno, Nevada sold two dispensary licenses for locations in Fernley and Sparks to a firm in Vancouver named C21 Investments. The Canadian company paid approximately $50 million to acquire the sales licenses.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Nevada in 2016, there has been a growing trend of Nevada companies selling rights and assets to Canadian-based investors. The recent announcements are examples of this trend. This coincides with recent nationwide legalized marijuana in Canada. As a result, publicly traded Canadian companies that are rich in investment capital are investing millions of dollars in operations based in the US.

Despite all these developments, marijuana is still an illegal drug according to United States federal laws. As a result, many U.S. companies are turning to Canadian stock exchanges to publicly offer their companies to stay out of legal hot water with Washington officials.

Las Vegas – Lack of Places to Smoke Cannabis are a Cause for Concern

Approximately 43 million people journey to Las Vegas to have some fun annually. “Sin City” offers a variety of activities for tourists, from gambling in high-class casinos to shows catering to a plethora of interests. One of the many recreations that people seek out is the freedom to smoke marijuana now that it is a legal commodity. However, this idea has a major flaw: marijuana can be smoked in very few public places legally even if you purchase your weed from a Las Vegas recreational dispensary.

Recreational cannabis is legal in ten states, including Nevada. However, the catch is that it is not legal in a majority of public spaces due to safety regulations. People who chose to use marijuana in private spaces are also at risk, as landlords and hotel management reserve the right to kick people out of their rooms and homes for using marijuana.

A suggestion offered by the Democratic senator of Nevada, Tick Segerblom, is the creation of lounges dedicated to the legal consumption of pot. Currently, no regulations exist in cities and states such as Oregon, Washington, and Colorado Springs concerning safe spaces for marijuana users. This is a result of complications in combining these rules with existing ones in place regarding restrictions on smoking indoors. For this reason, temporary regulations created for lounges have not had much success.

In conjunction with indoor restrictions, there is concern that cannabis lounges may pose a health risk. One of these concerns is that there will be a correlation between weed lounges and an increase in driving while under the influence of the substance. If this were to occur, it could cause the federal government to put an end to the legalization of marijuana.

These issues are now making it difficult for business owners and law enforcers alike. One of the biggest problems is that while it is legal to own a club that allows people to smoke, this club has to be private. However, it is hard to tell which clubs are private and which are free for the public to be patrons of.

Opinions are slowly changing as newly weed-friendly states usher in initiatives that would allow for weed lounges to exist alongside their marijuana-free counterparts. For example, Maine’s initiative has proposed a set of rules that permit the opening of clubs allowing for the usage of marijuana as long as the said club is has applied for and received proper licensing.

In states like Nevada where there are a number of clubs and bars that allow the smoking of cigarettes, the idea of lounges and clubs allowing the same thing, but with cannabis, may not be such a farfetched concept.

Uncertainty is Stalling Progress

The legalization of the ingestion of marijuana in public spaces is taking an extended amount of time for several reasons. These reasons range from existing rules in place for the benefit of air quality to uncertainty regarding the safety of the drug. This has turned the discussion on whether lounges deserve allowance into a “divisive area,” according to the former director of Colorado’s marijuana coordination, Andrew Freedman.

Alaska has attempted to allow public smoking by making it legal for its citizens to use marijuana at their designated dispensaries. However, the state’s lawmakers hesitate to go any further due to questions and concerns that have arisen pertaining to the safety of creating “tasting rooms.” Other questions that concerned legislation members pose have to do with how regulation will be imposed on the purchasing of pot or if happy hours will be eradicated for the safety of patrons.

Some states are sticking to their guns on the prohibition of lounges. One of these states is Oregon, where a bill legalizing such an establishment was shut down immediately due to worries about the type of example that it would set. This does not come as a surprise considering Oregon’s existing laws prohibiting the use of inhalants in places of work.

Colorado’s state representative, Dan Pabon of the democratic party, compares all of the concerns that are causing state legislation to drag their feet to similar queries that have existed in the past and continue to do so today in respect to public use of alcohol and cigarettes. The thing “keeping things at bay,” Pabon says, is that there is a smaller amount of data that exists concerning the effect of second-hand marijuana smoke in comparison to cigarette smoke and other tobacco products.

However, the indecisiveness of state lawmakers has created more questions than complacency in individual communities. For Nevada, it was never specified who had the authority to grant licenses for weed clubs and lounges. Lawyers serving the state decided that communities have the right to grant licenses to proposed weed lounges. However, Nevada’s attorney general refuses to offer an opinion.

Republican governor Brian Sandoval believes such lounges should be regulated by the state. In a statement, Sandoval says that he is “concerned with these establishments popping up throughout the state with differing rules and regulatory structure.”

The question of who exactly has the authority to grant a license to cannabis lounges on the Vegas strip was also asked during a Clark County Commission meeting. There are no answers set in stone for this yet, as the seven commissioners have decided to hold off on making a decision before the other communities of Nevada do. When asked why, Commissioner James Gibson stated that it is because “they don’t have to be first, but they certainly have to be right.”

Denver Has Won the Battle, But Not the War

A city that is currently under a microscope and serving as an example for other states considering the switch to public weed usage is Denver. Denver has successfully made lounge regulations and other rules for smoking in social settings after being forced to in order for their 2016 marijuana initiative to pass.

Of course, there were some drawbacks. A state ban exists on the open and public consumption of pot. Therefore, the idea of consumption in restaurants, concert venues, and bars proved to be in the category of fantasy.

While this could be maneuvered around by defining “public space” in a manner that benefits marijuana users, state laws further prevent public usage. Colorado’s ban on marijuana ingestion at locations already holding a liquor license as well as the Indoor Air Act that prevents smoking in a majority of businesses excluding the utilization of vapes makes it almost impossible to find a loophole that allows public consumption. In addition, only dispensaries with licenses may sell marijuana-based products. However, the public cannot consume the products at the dispensary.

In July of 2017, Denver business owners began submitting applications allowing for social consumption of pot. None have been approved yet. A hurdle for businesses set on running a cannabis lounge will be creating business models where selling marijuana is not their sole source of income.

Another issue is that Denver’s zoning laws prevent the issuance of licenses to establishments that are within a 1,000-foot radius of places including educational facilities, rehabilitation centers, and community pools, making most of the city unsuitable for the creation of lounges.

Colorado now has legalized marijuana while simultaneously constructing a black market for it because of the lack of regulations. Molly Duplechian, deputy director of policy for the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy says that if rules were into action for social usage of marijuana, it would make “Denver’s life easier” especially since the issue will not just eradicate itself.

Where in Las Vegas to Legally Consume Cannabis

Restrictions on Where You May Legally Consume Marijuana in Las Vegas

Many people are celebrating the fact that Nevada has joined the ranks of US states where recreational marijuana use is legal. What some people may not know is that there are restrictions on where one is permitted to use cannabis. Consuming marijuana in an area where cannabis use is not permitted is against the law and can result in a hefty fine.

The recreational marijuana law in Nevada essentially prohibits one from consuming cannabis in a public setting. This means that marijuana must be enjoyed in a private residence. You are permitted to use cannabis in a private home or areas of the home such as a patio or balcony.

It is currently illegal for individuals to smoke marijuana in public areas. This includes the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, bars and nightclubs, and on the street. Enjoying a toke in any or these areas means that you are in violation of the Nevada statues regarding cannabis consumption.

The penalties for breaking the law can be harsh. A fine of $600 is given to first-time offenders. Some people have tried to avoid the Las Vegas recreational marijuana dispensary law by using edibles or vape pens in public. This can still run you afoul of the law. Most would agree that the risk of being caught is simply not worth the potential fine.

Things may be changing, however. There are measures currently being debated by the state legislature which would provide accommodation for marijuana-friendly coffee shops and other establishments. It is also possible that provisions could be made in the near future for clubs to allow marijuana use.

In the meantime the only option is to smoke in a private residence. This is frustrating for many tourists who visit Las Vegas and other popular destinations in Nevada for the sole purpose of enjoying marijuana. Under the existing law one would need to know someone that owns a private residence in order to use cannabis.

The situation in Nevada reflects the growing pains of a nation that is trying to come to terms with marijuana use and Las Vegas gambling. The challenge for states that wish to make recreational marijuana legal has always been establishing reasonable parameters for cannabis use. States must also consider individuals who have no desire to use cannabis when crafting their pot laws.

It is also true that law enforcement in some jurisdictions like Colorado have taken a mild stance toward the prosecution of minor marijuana offenses. There is always a chance that Nevada officers could look the other way if you are spotted smoking in public, but many people find that this is a chance they are unwilling to take.

Pennsylvania Recreational Cannabis PA

Recently, local state representatives in Pennsylvania introduced a proposal that legalizes adult recreational cannabis use in the state. In reaction to this proposed legislation, state Representative Ryan Warner stated that he didn’t believe that now was the appropriate time to legalize more drugs. He also said that lawmakers needed to study further the use of recreational marijuana in states that already have legalized the drug.

Recreational cannabis use has been made legal in nine states. Also, the District of Columbia allows for legitimate use of the drug recreationally. A total of 31 US states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Representative Warner, R-Perryopolis, doesn’t believe that the state should legalize marijuana. But he and his cohort, Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jeffers, as well as Rep. Matt Dowling, R-Uniontown, stated that they would consider a referendum or a direct vote by residents of the state concerning this subject.

Their comments came after Rep. Jake Wheatly, who is a Democrat from Pittsburg, proposed a bill that legalized possessing cannabis products and up to six cannabis plants. But not more than three cannabis plants could be in flower in this proposed bill. The bill didn’t take into consideration the topics of publically using marijuana or driving under the influence of pot. The bill was then given to the House Health Committee. Besides, Rep. Wheatly proposed releasing people incarcerated for marijuana-associated crimes.

A recent (2017) poll by Franklin and Marshall College discovered that over half of the voters of Pennsylvania support legalizing marijuana. This number is significantly more significant than the previous year’s poll. Democrats and independents strongly support legalizing marijuana, while only 44 percent of Republicans agree with its legislation, according to the survey. These numbers are of concern to marijuana legalization proponents, as the bill faces a considerable challenge in the General Assembly, which contains a Republican majority. Rep. Snyder believes that the focus of marijuana legislation should be kept on implementing medical marijuana laws instead of legalizing the plant material in general.

Cannabis remains classified a Schedule I drug as determined by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Marijuana has been considered by the government to have a high potential for abuse as well as no accepted medical uses. Plus, most banks are required to refuse to allow individuals or companies to deposit money from marijuana sales since the substance is still considered an illegal chemical. A recent report from by the Washington Post reported that most legal marijuana businesses such as in Oregon and Colorado run primarily on cash transactions.

Rep. Dowling stated that he doesn’t know if marijuana leads to the use of stronger or increasingly addicting drugs. He also doesn’t know if legalizing marijuana would reduce dependence on opioids like heroin. He does believe that both premises need to be investigated further.

Rep. Bud Cook, who is a Republican from West Pike Run Township, said during a recent debate that he remains somewhere in the middle of the debate over legalizing marijuana because he has quite a few questions that need to be answered before he takes a side on the issue. He doesn’t’ have a problem with legalizing medical marijuana, however.

Justin Walsh, a Republican representative from Rostraver Township, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Pennsylvania State Act 16 of 2016 regulates medical marijuana under certain circumstances. If a person has contracted a terminal illness or one of the qualifying 21 conditions such as cancer, epilepsy or autism, they may be able to use marijuana legally to treat their disorder legally. Snyder and Warner supported this legislation. Dowling says he supports using marijuana medically but doesn’t know for sure what local impact may have occurred since marijuana’s medical use was legalized.

According to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, the state is losing out on $581 million per year in revenue by not legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana use if the amount of taxation was set at 35 percent. Rep. Wheatly also stated that taxing marijuana could balance the state’s budget and improve the state’s schools, too. Rep.Snyder didn’t think that the increased tax dollars were enough of a reason to legalize recreational marijuana, however.

Rep. Dowling argued that it is financially irresponsible to relay on “sin taxes” to base the financing of a state government. By their nature, “sin taxes” on gambling, tobacco and other such vices are not a reliable source of state income because the amount gained fluctuates.

Rep. Wheatly argued that legalizing marijuana would save the taxpayers a lot of money in law enforcement costs. Law officers would also be freed up to deal with more serious crimes if recreation marijuana use was made legal.