Cover Story: Move Over, Colorado; Nevada May Be the New Amsterdam

Categories: Longform

High rollers. Glitzy casinos. Feathered showgirls. And now, weed.

Las Vegas has long been a city of overindulgence. That little slogan, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," exists for a reason. And that reason? Debauchery. Throw a little weed into the mix and it may just push that Vegas-bred stimulation into overdrive.

Not that legalization is a new subject in Nevada, mind you. When it comes to weed, the state has long been on board for medical use, with the state's voters electing to legalize medical marijuana way back in 2000. And Nevada doesn't only have medi-pot on the brain; a petition filed to legalize recreational pot as well is expected to pass by 2016, which will create a blanket legalization of the plant for the state.

But even with the legalization of medi-pot technically in place in Nevada, it wasn't until recently that the state saw any movement on the subject. The first place to set up regulations? Unincorporated Clark County, of course. It is, after all, where the Las Vegas strip is located. What would shiny casinos be without some shiny weed dispensaries to go along with them?

Las Vegas has mapped out an interesting way to deal with the rising interest in the cannabis industry. It's limiting the number of dispensary licenses offered in Clark County -- only ten are available -- with a similar amount available for grow operations, which will keep those dispensaries stocked with the green goods.

And as with anything else in Sin City, marijuana will be all about the almighty dollar. In order to own one of those ten licenses, you'd better be able to put up or shut up, to the tune of $250,000. And not only will prospective marijuana moguls have to prove those couple hundred thousand in liquid assets, but they'll also have to pony up the $35,000 in fees.

They'll have to be able to pass some pretty expensive background checks before Vegas will even let those checks clear, though. Applying and makin' it rain are only part of the equation. Not that those big ol' numbers -- nor those big ol' background checks -- are slowing things down, mind you.

With 109 applicants for Vegas's medical marijuana dispensary and grow house licenses already on the books, the business of recreational weed could get quite competitive in Las Vegas once it moves forward. Applicants are lining up for their shot at the medical marijuana industry, long before they're even allowed to open up shop.

And you're up for some stiff competition if you're from Nevada; those aren't all your fellow Nevada residents in that line, either. The state is welcoming applicants from out of state, so the race to the legal weed line is a national event for Nevada.

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