Advocates press case for legal recreational Cannabis

Advocates press case for legal recreational cannabis


Dispensary Team Lead for Reef Dispensaries Ella Wagge, 24, speaks with a reporter after a media conference at Thrive Medical Marijuana Dispensary in North Las Vegas on September 8, 2016

Thrive Medical Cannabis Dispensary

Joe Brezny speaks during a media conference at Thrive Medical Marijuana Dispensary in North Las Vegas on September 8, 2016. On the left is Gustavo Darthenay and right stands Amanda Conner..

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Nevada would create thousands of jobs, reduce black market sales and generate millions of tax dollars for education, representatives of an advocacy group said today.

Representatives of the Yes on Question 2 campaign — a reference to the November ballot initiative on recreational marijuana — cited a study from Las Vegas-based RCG Economics that concluded recreational marijuana would add more than 6,200 jobs in the first four years after legalization, including nearly 3,000 jobs outside the marijuana industry.

“To keep up with the demand, we’d see more security firms, attorneys, accountants, transportation companies and construction workers, among other jobs,” campaign spokesman Joe Brezny said at the Thrive Cannabis Marketplace dispensary in North Las Vegas. “This is an all-inclusive industry and benefits workers statewide.”

Also speaking at Thursday’s event was Thrive Director of Operations Gus D’Arthenay, who joined the dispensary when it opened earlier this year.

D’Arthenay, one of 50 employees at the North Las Vegas dispensary, said consumer demand for legalized adult-use marijuana would allow the dispensary and two cultivation facilities to double its staff to 100 employees in the next two years.

Ditto for Reef Dispensary Manager Ella Wagge, who said her North Las Vegas dispensary, located just over a mile east of Thrive on West Cheyenne Avenue, and cultivation grow house would expand from 125 employees to “as many as 300 or 400” within one year.

“We’re prepared for a big expansion if this passes,” Wagge said. “We’re extremely excited.”

D’Arthenay and Wagge were two of nearly two dozen Southern Nevada medical marijuana employees — from dispensary managers to cultivation facility growers to customer service workers — who attended the event in support of Question 2. Medical marijuana is already legal in Nevada.

Carina Robinson of Las Vegas turned to marijuana in 2014 while recovering from neck surgery. The 42-year-old said marijuana provided more pain relief than 17 medications she was prescribed after her surgery.

“It’s natural and it doesn’t have the nasty side effects,” she said.

Robinson, a manager at The Clinic, a dispensary at 4310 W. Flamingo Road, said she continues to use marijuana for her personal wellness.

“It helps you mellow out,” she said. “Unlike heavy alcohol and pill users, marijuana users don’t want to drive or be violent.”

ReLeaf employee Rachelnell Rivera, 23, who alternates between helping medical customers at the company’s dispensary on the Las Vegas Strip and cultivating plants at its growhouse, said she watched her chronically diabetic grandmother suffer for six years with an addiction to prescription drugs before the woman’s death in 2013. Rivera also worked as a licensed practical nurse, and found the same problems with many of the patients she cared for. She said her passion for marijuana came from a desire to improve lives and reduce pharmaceutical addictions.

Rivera said she believed marijuana should be recreationally available, so people can access it similar to over-the-counter medicine.

“When it becomes recreational, people will have that first option to take medical cannabis,” Rivera said. “There are a ton of ways to use this stuff.”

A July 26 poll from KNTV-TV and Rasmussen Reports found 50 percent of Nevadans were in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, with 41 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided.



Congress has given veterans the right to discuss medical marijuana use as a treatment option with Veterans Affairs doctors in states where medical marijuana is legalized.

The new legislation allows VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana and complete the required paperwork for state-legalized medical marijuana programs, but it doesn’t allow the VA to sell medical marijuana or cover costs for veterans, the Military Times reports.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer stated, “The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average. From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”

The VA is recommending that its doctors use evidence-based therapies that have been proven by scientific research to be effective with medical marijuana; for instance, treating PTSD, depression or chronic pain.

Sin City’s first medical cannabis dispensary opens on the Strip.

lasvegasmarijuanaadAmid the casinos and the shows, the bars and the pools, Las Vegas now welcomes to the Strip a medical cannabis dispensary.

Sandwiched between the SLS Las Vegas and Stratosphere hotel-casino resorts, the Essence Cannabis Dispensary, which opens Wednesday, is the first such facility on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada since 2000, but legal wrangling meant Sin City’s first dispensary didn’t open until last August. Since then medical marijuana stores have begun popping up around Southern Nevada.

It’s illegal for people with medical marijuana cards from California and other states to transport their stash across state lines, but they can legally purchase and consume cannabis in Nevada with a doctor’s note, thanks to a 2015 law that created reciprocity.

Nevadans, however, often have to wait a month or more for a medical marijuana card, thanks to a background check.

Essence founder and chief executive Armen Yemenidjian thinks the location will be the key to his success.

He predicts 70% to 90% of the customers at his Strip store will be Las Vegas visitors, many of them from Southern California. About 42 million people visited Las Vegas in 2015, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In 2014, 27% of Las Vegas visitors were from Southern California.

“Some people may not want to travel to places where it’s not legal,” Yemenidjian  said, “so it has the potential to increase tourism.”

Like other dispensaries, Essence sells products to treat various medical conditions, including pain, nausea and sleep deprivation.

Patients can cook with cannabis-infused butter, munch on a coconut macaroon laced with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana or simply smoke a joint made with potent cannabis flower.

Consultations with a registered nurse are offered free of charge.

Essence is buying its marijuana from other growers, but will soon begin growing its own crop in a 55,000-square-foot cultivation center less than a mile from the Strip.

When fully operational around the end of the year, the computer-controlled facility is expected to grow about 35,000 plants at any given time. Yemenidjian then plans to begin offering tours.

“It’s one of the most sophisticated [cultivation centers] in the country,” he explained. “We want people to come in and see what we’re doing.”

In November, residents will help decide an initiative that would legalize recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and older.


Las Vegas Medical Marijauna

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