Nevada legal pot launch not expected to hurt state budget
LAS VEGAS — Nevada officials think they have enough money on hand to get a legal recreational marijuana market up and running without straining the state budget.
The state could use money from its existing medical marijuana program to pay upfront costs of regulating the new recreational market, Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a story published Sunday. Those start-up costs could include licensing and inspecting businesses that will cultivate and sell the substance.
Nevada voters approved a measure in November that allows adults who are 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana effective Jan. 1. The measure calls for retail shops to sell the substance by 2018, and state officials are already hashing out details including procedures for determining who gets a license.
“The department is already working to develop temporary regulations,” said Deonne Contine, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, which will regulate recreational weed. “We intend to hold a public workshop very early in 2017 and then have our temporary regulations adopted so we can begin issuing licenses.”
Nevada’s anticipated funding to get the marijuana market working contrasts with Massachusetts, which is trying to find money to get a regulated pot market going after voters there legalized recreational marijuana in November. Lawmakers are considering tapping into their state’s rainy day fund to the tune of $30 million for start-up costs, according to the Boston Globe.
Nevada did need a budget boost when it first started regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. In 2014, lawmakers gave regulators at the Division of Public and Behavioral Health a temporary advance of $623,000 to implement the program.
Nevada’s medical marijuana program brought in $761,000 in tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Three-quarters of that money goes to public schools, while one quarter of it goes to the state to administer the program.
Recreational marijuana will be taxed differently. Wholesale marijuana sales are subject to a 15 percent excise tax, and pot will also be subject to the sales tax.