How Liquor Companies Screwed Up Pot Legalization in Nevada

When special interest groups write regulations, consumers pay the price.


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Nevada is home to casinos, impulse weddings, legal brothels, and, as of July 1, recreational weed.

Despite its reputation, Nevada has never been anything close to a free market paradise. Everything from the Las Vegas taxi industry to prostitution is controlled by a handful of politically-connected companies licensed to operate by the government.

This means exorbitant prices and unnecessary hassles for customers and businesses. And the latest industry to take hold—legal weed—is no exception.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) recently declared a state of emergency because the state's 37 licensed marijuana shops were running out of inventory. Why? The law legalizing recreational cannabis sales in Nevada granted an 18-month monopoly on distribution to liquor wholesalers, who lack the experience and infrastructure to transport marijuana. And most are too afraid to enter the market because they're regulated by the federal government, and cannabis is still illegal on the federal level.

The absurdity of the situation is playing out at Essence, a marijuana dispensary just north of the Vegas strip, which started out as a medical marijuana facility. When it was selling medical weed, owner Armen Yemendijian had his employees move inventory from the grow house to the storefront themselves. Now that the store is selling recreational marijuana, that's no longer an option.

"Our cultivation facility is no more than a couple of miles from our dispensary," says Yemenidjian.

Legal weed could be a huge boon to the state economy, while providing tourists a rsafe way to have even more fun in Vegas. But politicians need to stop using every "Sin City" vice as a means to reward special interests.

Watch the video above, or scroll down for downloadable versions.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Justin Monticello. Music by The Underscore Orkestra, Tri-Tachyon, and Chris Zabriskie.

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