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Questions linger after NV passes legal marijuana measure

A 17-year old Warren County teen ran a drug ring and earned over $20,000 a month selling hydroponic marijuana.

A 17-year old Warren County teen ran a drug ring and earned over $20,000 a month selling hydroponic marijuana.

After Question 2 passed in Tuesday’s election, recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Nevada in a matter of weeks.

The ballot initiative passed by a margin of eight points: 54 percent to 46 percent.

“Obviously the majority of Nevada are very excited about the opportunity,” Tanya Lupien, who works at Medizen, a medical marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas.

But, there are still lingering questions about how question two will be put into place.

“At this point it’s still business as usual. We’re waiting to hear from the state and then we’ll proceed as soon as we get direction from them,” Lupien said.

The first direction for Nevadans is that starting in Jan. 1, 2017, it will be legal for people over the age of 21 to have less than an ounce of marijuana. However, it will take more time for it to become legal to buy or sell pot, as the state tries to set rules and regulations for recreational sales.

“They’ll be able to use it starting January First, but where are they going to buy it? And those are the rules and regulations that come into play…how they buy it, how it’s produced, how it’s distributed,” said Peters and Associates attorney, Judah Zakalik.

Some of those regulations are already hammered out. You won’t be able to smoke in public or drive under the influence and if your apartment or work has rules against smoking or drugs, those still apply. But, lawyers say there’s still a lot more that has to bet set on the selling side.

“Every specific is going to be addressed, all the t’s crossed, the i’s dotted, they have to run it through the whole process from seed to sale,” Zakalik said.

All of those rules have to be set before Jan. 1, 2018. After they’re put into place, dispensaries can apply for licenses to sell recreational pot. Zakalik said that application process will take several months as well.

“It would probably be another six months to 12 months until you can start buying cannabis at a dispensary after January, 2018,” Zakalik observed.

To put that time line in context, Colorado legalized recreational pot in January, 2012, and the first recreational marijuana sales happened in January, 2014. Zakalik said Nevada’s path could be made easier because medical marijuana is already in place, lawmakers can look to other states who have legalized recreational use, and Nevada has experience regulating unique industries, like gaming and prostitution.

But, even though it could be far off, dispensaries like Medizen say they’re looking forward to the new industry.

“We are ready to move full steam ahead,” Lupien said.