Le­gal mar­i­juana may be added to Las Ve­gas’ list of vices

Nov 8 state bal­lot would le­gal­ize pot

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -


Ne­vada al­ready has le­gal broth­els, round-the-clock casi­nos and a coy catch­phrase declar­ing that “what hap­pens in Ve­gas, stays in Ve­gas.” If vot­ers ap­prove, the state could soon add an­other vice in the form of recre­ational mar­i­juana.

A pro­posal on the Nov. 8 state bal­lot would le­gal­ize pot, and en­trepreneurs hope its pas­sage could some­day al­low the drug at Las Ve­gas’ glam­orous night­clubs and per­haps pro­vide the frame­work for a fu­ture Am­s­ter­dam-style cannabis district.

“I re­ally think this would be the third­largest market in the coun­try,” said Derek Peter­son, whose com­pany op­er­ates med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries called Blum. He pre­dicts that only Cal­i­for­nia and New York would of­fer a big­ger cus­tomer base than Las Ve­gas and its 42 mil­lion tourists a year. “I think it should be able to fit in re­ally well with the whole day­club/night­club thing.”

Ne­vada has al­lowed med­i­cal mar­i­juana since 2000, and Peter­son sees recre­ational pot as an al­ter­na­tive for vis­i­tors tired of cock­tails that can top $15 apiece and in­flict hang­overs. But before wait­resses be­gin de­liv­er­ing high-grade mar­i­juana at clubs along the Las Ve­gas Strip, weed pro­po­nents will have to win over not just vot­ers, who nar­rowly sup­port the ini­tia­tive in polls, but a risk-averse casino in­dus­try. The Ne­vada Re­sort As­so­ci­a­tion came out against the mea­sure, point­ing to an opin­ion from gam­bling regulators that casino own­ers should avoid the mar­i­juana in­dus­try be­cause the sub­stance re­mains il­le­gal under fed­eral law. Las Ve­gas Sands owner Shel­don Adel­son has bankrolled most of the op­po­si­tion, pour­ing $2 mil­lion of his for­tune into a cam­paign that raises the pos­si­bil­ity that small chil­dren could be­come in­tox­i­cated from candy-like mar­i­juana ed­i­bles.

Adel­son’s con­tri­bu­tions

Adel­son also has con­trib­uted $1.5 mil­lion in Ari­zona and Mas­sachusetts, a sig­nif­i­cant share of all anti-mar­i­juana do­na­tions there. Adel­son, whose son died of a drug over­dose and whose wife is a doc­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in drug ad­dic­tion, has do­nated mil­lions to­ward ef­forts to de­feat med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­pos­als in Flor­ida and other states in years past.

Other casino op­er­a­tors have joined the fray, but to a lesser ex­tent. In spite of its lib­er­tine rep­u­ta­tion, the rig­or­ously reg­u­lated casino in­dus­try is known to err on the con­ser­va­tive side to avoid scan­dal­iz­ing the mid­dleaged tourists who are its bread and but­ter. “I don’t know that this is a game changer in terms of tourism,” Vir­ginia Valen­tine, pres­i­dent of the Ne­vada Re­sort As­so­ci­a­tion, said of mar­i­juana’s po­ten­tial. “We’re re­ally known for other things. You may at­tract peo­ple or turn them off.” The Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Author­ity, which pro­motes Sin City’s ameni­ties to the world, is neu­tral on the is­sue. Clyde Bar­row, a gam­bling ex­pert who chairs the po­lit­i­cal science depart­ment at the Univer­sity of Texas-Rio Grande Val­ley, sug­gests the do­na­tions may in­di­cate the casino com­pa­nies are act­ing in their own best in­ter­ests. “The mar­i­juana in­dus­try is emerg­ing as an­other form of re­cre­ation and en­ter­tain­ment. Given the casino in­dus­try’s dif­fi­cul­ties at­tract­ing mil­len­ni­als, mar­i­juana is prob­a­bly per­ceived as a di­rect com­peti­tor with casi­nos for en­ter­tain­ment dol­lars,” he said. —AP

LAS VE­GAS: In this, Oct. 27, 2016, photo, a mon­i­tor dis­plays dif­fer­ent types of mar­i­juana for sale at Blum.—AP

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