DENVER (AP) — Now that Nevada has approved an early start to recreational cannabis sales, existing medical marijuana companies in the state are readying for a burst of new business that could equate to tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue this year.
With Las Vegas alone drawing 40 million-plus visitors in 2016, the overall recreational cannabis industry is set to take another big step forward.
The early rollout will make Nevada the fifth state with an operational recreational market and the first to launch since last November’s election, when voters in four states approved adult-use programs. Nevada will also be the first new recreational state to go live under the Trump administration.
“It’s great news for everybody,” said Ben Sillitoe, the CEO and co-founder of Oasis Cannabis, a medical marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas.
Nevada’s recreational marijuana industry got the thumbs-up for an “early start” program Monday, when state tax authorities approved temporary regulations that allow licensed medical marijuana companies to begin adult-use sales July 1.
The recreational program isn’t expected to fully launch until 2018 because the tax commission has until January to finalize rules for the industry.
According to Marijuana Business Daily estimates, Nevada’s recreational market could generate $75 million or more in sales this year and $450 million-$550 million annually down the road. Tourist spending is expected to account for a heavy portion of sales.
The early recreational marijuana program will run from July 1 until January 2018 and will be open to roughly 190 medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and processors.
Sillitoe said the industry, state officials and other stakeholders “all worked together to make this happen quickly, and I think Nevada is a good example of how good regulation works to advance the industry.”
However, there are plenty of caveats. The biggest: At the outset, only existing medical marijuana businesses will be allowed to obtain recreational sales licenses; other interested companies must wait until January to jump in.