How did you become involved in Nevada’s cannabis industry?
In 2012, I was meeting with Senator Segerblom about passing a GPS second-time sex offender bill, and he said he needed my help with a medical marijuana bill he was developing. As a volunteer, my job was pretty much to travel the West Coast to figure out which state had the best bill for Nevada to follow, which was Arizona’s. At the time, Arizona was a medical state, and they had tight regulations, and we figured those were the regs Nevada needed. I hosted a trip of Nevada legislators to Arizona to go visit the very first dispensary in Glendale called Arizona Organix so they could get educated on dispensaries. From there, I went out and got the votes necessary to pass the bill because we needed both Democrat and Republican involvement.
How much did you know about the cannabis industry?
I didn't know anything about the regulated cannabis industry, but it was something that I wanted to lobby for and support, especially when I learned the medical marijuana law at the time was a broken law. Nevada law said you could grow 12 plants, however, seeds were illegal, plus you had the elderly and others who didn't know how to grow, and they were inviting strangers into their homes to help them grow their medicine, whether it was for a migraine, seizures, or other ailments. Also, there were minors in some of the home grows. I thought we needed to address some of those issues.
One of the things you had to figure out was licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries
We came up with the number of dispensary licenses (60) by calculating that for every 10 pharmacies in the state of Nevada, we would have one dispensary. Now with recreational cannabis coming in, we are finding that more licensed dispensaries are needed.
Why did you all include reciprocity?
We just knew that this was the Entertainment Capital of the World, and tourists should be allowed to get their medicine. If you have a tourist coming in from another state, they would not be able to carry their medicine on a plane; however, if they could show a card from a state that had medicinal marijuana patient cardholders, we would allow the businesses here to sell to them. We figured that would be a good thing, and we could protect the tourists because it’s such a transient town of tourists coming here from neighboring western states where they also have legal marijuana.
Why was lab testing an important part of the regulatory framework?
Lab testing was just part of making sure that the patients had quality medicine. We needed mandatory testing, and part of the broken law was that patients had no idea what pesticides or other things were being put into the plant, and patients should know that; especially if they had a disease they are treating. Mandatory testing only made sense at the time.
Where is the Clark County Commission’s Green Ribbon Panel, on which you serve, on approving consumption lounges?
We all believe there should be consumption lounges. The issue becomes how are these businesses that want to be consumption lounges going to sustain themselves -- there's no alcohol, no food, so how does a business sustain itself? One thing about a special use permit is the County wants to know that the business receiving the permit is going to be successful, how are they going to make a return on their investment? It must be a sustainable business. I think it will eventually happen sometime next year.
What has been the most surprising thing you have learned about cannabis?
To be truthful, how much people are willing to pay to participate in the industry. Although it’s a good investment, it takes a lot of money.