Nevada Rakes in $27 Million in Legal Pot Sales in First Month; Will Other States Follow?

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In a state that relies on gambling for revenue, it looks like legalized marijuana sales in Nevada are sure bet. Pot dispensaries pulled in more than $27 million in July, the first month of recreational marijuana sales in the Silver State, generating more than $3.6 million in taxes, according to figures released Thursday by the Nevada Department of Taxation.

The figures for weed sales in Nevada top those for Colorado and Oregon, which each sold more than $14 million in marijuana in their first months for legal sales. The state of Washington tallied $3.8 million in its first month. All those states have populations much larger than Nevada.

Mari St. Martin, a spokesperson for Governor Brian Sandoval, said:

Although July was not accounted for in our projections, the first month’s revenues demonstrate that the state’s structure appears to be collecting as a rate consistent with the consensus forecast.

Nevada state officials have projected that special sales tax will generate $63.5 million over the first two years of sales. Tax Department spokesperson Stephanie Klapstein said the state expects that excise tax to grow over the next two years as more cultivators get licensed and begin to operate. The state has also raked in $6.5 million for marijuana license and application fees.

The sales figures for marijuana in Nevada will add to the momentum to legalize cannabis for recreational use in other states, especially those facing revenue shortfalls. California, Massachusetts and Maine all voted in November to make recreational weed legal, joining Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.

Even though Nevada has just under 3 million residents, the state draws 55 million tourists a year for the gambling and entertainment in Las Vegas, as well as visitors who come for the natural wonders of the state such Red Rock Canyon and public works achievements such as Hoover Dam. In addition, Nevada’s medical marijuana reciprocity laws allow nonresident patients to buy cannabis products while visiting the state.

Recreational sales started on July 1, and Nevada has issued 250 recreational marijuana licenses, 53 to dispensaries.

Patients and retail customers are allowed to buy one ounce per transaction. The state tax department said in press release before recreational marijuana sales became legal that under the law, a consumer still can’t consume marijuana in public or in a moving vehicle, even if the consumer is a passenger. If someone is driving under the influence of marijuana, that person is likely to get cited for driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

Last year, cannabis analytics firm New Frontier, in partnership with cannabis market research company Arcview Market Research, said in a report that annual legal cannabis sales in Nevada will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 51%, to an estimated $630 million by 2020 from $121.6 million in 2016.