Nevada’s first year of recreational marijuana sales surpasses expectations

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Nevada regulators and industry insiders say the state’s first year of broad cannabis legalization exceeded even their highest estimations, with sales and tax collections already surpassing year-end projections by 25%.

Numbers from June are still outstanding, but they are expected to push taxable sales past $500 million, netting total tax revenue in the neighborhood of $70 million.

A legal battle over distribution licenses made for a rocky start in July 2017, but Nevada’s $195 million in sales the first six months dwarfed the totals in Washington state ($67 million) and Colorado ($114 million) for their first half-year of legal sales in 2014.

And so far, there’s no sign legal sales that began in California on Jan. 1 have cut into business in neighboring Nevada, state regulators say.

However, hurdles do exist for marijuana businesses looking to cater to Nevada’s massive tourist market, including the fact that most visitors have nowhere to legally smoke cannabis. The only legal places are private residences in a state that attracts nearly 50 million tourists annually.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Las Vegas Democrat who helped lead the legalization effort, is looking to local governments to start using their authority to license smoking lounges or other public places for marijuana consumption.

The Las Vegas City Council initially backed off such a move, waiting for places like Colorado to test the waters.

But it recently resumed accepting public comment on the matter, and Segerblom thinks the city will move that direction following November’s elections.

– Associated Press