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Nevada Gaming Board Meets To Discuss Marijuana Policy

By Rick Schettino
Dec 01, 2017

Top policymakers from the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee met recently to discuss the possibility of using recreational cannabis as a new tourism angle for the state.

While making Nevada's casinos 420-friendly won’t be easy considering the state’s strict stance against weed in the past, it’s not totally farfetched either. Casinos and other businesses with gaming licenses have been steering clear of the industry due to its federally illegal status. But many with an interest in the Las Vegas marijuana industry like the idea of marijuana lounges and pot tourism. And it is Sin City; anything is possible.

There does appear to be a potential opening that would permit the use of marijuana resort settings under certain circumstances, and that’s one of the topics that was discussed Wednesday.

Citing the continued confusion over federal intentions, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval chaired a half-day conference of the "Gaming Policy Committee" on November 28.

Reporting on the recent MJBizCon conference held in Las Vegas, state tax official Denise Contine shared her agency's estimate that the show generated a $28.2 million economic input on Sin City.  Contine's estimates said about 58% of the estimated 18,000 visitors gambled during their stay, averaging a budget of about $530 each.

Another panel member and CEO of MJBizCon, Cassandra Farrington, called on the 12-member sub-group of the state's powerful Nevada Gaming Commission to revisit the state's ban on cannabis-related educational meetings at hotel resort with a gaming license.

Farrington said the MJBizCon strictly forbids on-site cannabis products on the exhibit floor and discourages on-site consumption at its annual November confab, which moved to the Vegas Convention Center last month after four years at the Rio hotel. Sandoval wants the group to make recommendations on several cannabis policies for Nevada by February 2018.

A.G. Burnett (State Gaming Control Board Chairman) and Tony Alamo (Gaming Commission Chairman) are members of the committee. Alamo is also a medical doctor as well as the state’s gaming regulator.

The committee invited CEO of Marijuana Business Daily, Cassandra Farrington, to discuss potential revenue opportunities if Las Vegas were to host more cannabis conventions. MJBizCon (the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo) was at the LV Convention Center earlier this month and brought in over 10,000 people and 700 vendors to the city.

Deonne Contine and Kile Porter of the state Department of Taxation will be involved in the conversation as well. For a city that thrives on tourism and, in recent years, has been making more income from conventions than gambling, it’s a worthwhile idea to consider.

The agenda also includes an explanation of federal marijuana laws by attorney Brian Barnes of Cooper & Kirk and a discussion of financial relationships and money-laundering issues with three other experts. They include two Station Casinos executives, former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, senior vice president of compliance and security for Station, and Paul Camacho, vice president of anti-money laundering compliance, as well as Candace Carlyon, an attorney with Clark Hill.

Las Vegas is the nation’s leading trade show destination in North America and already hosts more than 21,000 conventions and shows a year, some with unconventional products and topics. For now, only events that don’t allow sale or consumption of marijuana will be permitted.

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