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Up In Smoke: Legal Pot For Adults Around The Corner

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AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

In this Dec. 31, 2012 file photo, Rachel Schaefer, of Denver, smokes marijuana on the official opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club in Denver. Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Just before the Fourth of July, Nevada will be lighting up.

Not sparklers, but very possibly joints.

On July 1, stores throughout the state will be able to legally peddle marijuana and THC-infused products.

But there are so many issues still unresolved, regulations that are still being crafted—from banking to distribution to the fact that marijuana remains illegal to federal law enforcement -- what will Nevada look like post-legalization?

Sam McMullen is a lobbyist for a group of independent alcohol distributors. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that his group may sue the state before recreational marijuana arrives in stores because of the distribution question.

He said the intent of Question 2--voters in November legalized recreational marijuana for adults -- was to allow independent alcohol distributors to distribute marijuana, exclusively. However, state Tax Commission regulations now allow medical marijuana distributors and establishments, along with alcohol distributors, to distribute the drug.

"It may not be important to some of the marijuana users, but it is important to people who want to have proper tax accounting, reliable delivery the things that the alcohol delivery system as proven up through the years," McMullen said.

Joe Brezny was the spokesperson for the group the led effort to pass Question 2 in November. He disagrees with McMillan's assessment of the distribution question. 

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"We were trying to build a bridge between alcohol and marijuana and have us collaborate with them on how they distribute alcohol and I believe that is still going on," Brezny said

The question of distribution is just one of the many still out there. Another big problem that lawmakers are trying to work out is where people will be allowed to consume marijuana.

"One of the quandaries we've run into is that it is now legal in Nevada for anyone over 21 to possess it and in the law, it is legal for them to consume it, but there are no regulations yet on where they can possess it and where they can consume it," Brezny said.

That provides a particular problem for the city's tourism sector. People are legally allowed to have marijuana or THC-infused products on the Las Vegas Strip, but they are not legally allowed to consume in casinos. Brezny said there is a bill pending in the Legislature to address that problem. 

"Right now, there is a legal activity but there is nowhere for them to do it," he said.

One part of the new pot policy that can't be addressed by regulation is the stigma that comes with the drug. A century of demonization by forces opposed to the drug means stigma remains very strong – even as more states are beginning to legalize it.

"I don't think it is fair, but I do think it is real that people need to be cautious about these things," Brezny said. "It is not as socially accepted as it should be." 

Brezny admits that he consumes marijuana, but he would not post picture of himself using it online, as some might in places like Facebook. But he believes over time that stigma will change as the use of marijuana becomes more accepted. 

 

 

Guests

Joe Brezny, lobbyist, Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol; Pat Hickey, former Assemblyman and lobbyist against legalization of recreational marijuana; State Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas; Sam McMullen, The McMullen Strategic Group

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