LAUGHLIN — The first medical marijuana dispensary in Laughlin opened quietly Saturday, nearly 16 years after Nevada voters approved the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Nevada Medical Marijuana, located in a former bank building at 1975 Casino Drive, is one of only a handful of retail outlets that have opened for business in Nevada since the Legislature enacted regulations two years ago regarding growth, production and retail sale of medicinal marijuana. Its sister facility in Henderson also opened for business Saturday.
At opening, four strains of smokeable product were available for purchase.
“As the weeks go on, that’s going to exponentially increase,” said Jerad Telles, dispensary manager. “I imagine in a few weeks, maybe a month or so, we’ll have up to 20 strains.
“The Nevada (industry) is just developing,” he said. “Everything is just getting up off the ground. Our manager has really big dreams for this company; we’re just taking flight right now.”
The state requires all product sold in Nevada to be cultivated and produced in Nevada. Nevada Medical Marijuana is a vertically integrated operation, meaning its product line — which will eventually include edibles, tinctures and salves — will be created at its Laughlin cultivation and production facilities.
Nevada’s medical marijuana regulations are strict. Randy Black, Sr., the company’s majority owner, had hoped to open the company’s Laughlin and Henderson dispensaries Friday but state inspectors didn’t give their final approval until the proper out-the-door packaging was obtained.
Nevada also maintains stringent testing requirements for medical cannabis, not just for potency but for the presence of pesticides and microbiologicals, as well.
When developing the medical marijuana regulations, lawmakers cleared the way for medical tourism by allowing visitors with valid
out-of-state authorization cards to purchase medicinal marijuana. Card holders can obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks in quantities as small as one gram.
Nevada Medical Marijuana has so far hired 26 individuals to work in its Laughlin operation, and that number is expected to grow.
In addition to opportunities for employment, the operation will generate sales tax revenue. Buyers of medical marijuana products will pay the regular state and county sales tax plus a 2 percent excise fee.
It’s estimated that Arizona, with a tax rate of 5.6 percent, reaps an additional $2 million annually from the sale of medical marijuana. The rate in Colorado is 2.9 percent, and its tax revenue from medical marijuana is about $6 million.
Seventy-five percent of the taxes collected from the sale of medical marijuana in Nevada are earmarked for education needs; the other 25 percent will be used to cover the costs of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Service’s enforcement of medical marijuana regulations.
So what happens when a patient enters Nevada Medical Marijuana?
First, that person will be asked to present identification and a medical marijuana authorization card, said Telles. The information is entered into a state-run database that will reveal whether the individual is eligible to purchase medical marijuana and in what amount.
Once cleared, the patient will be allowed to enter the dispensary, where they will be assisted by staff members knowledgeable with the medicinal benefits of each strain.
“We’ll steer them in the right direction,” said Telles.
Patients can also peruse a variety of paraphernalia, such as pipes and papers.
Nevada Medical will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“This is an exciting industry, it’s brand new and up-and-coming,” said Black. “I’ve been all over the states talking to people who are engaged in this industry. There’s a lot of business acumen and operational expertise we think we can bring here.”
JULIE FAIRMAN/News West
Once inside the Nevada Medical Marijuana dispensary, knowledgeable staff members will assist patients in choosing the strain that is right for them. From left are Assistant Dispensary Manager Delaney McDermott, Manager Jerad Telles and Budtender Ashley Henley.