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Sin City is going green in ways that have nothing to do with recycling.
Saturday marked a big moment for tourism, as Nevada became the fifth state to launch sales of legal, recreational marijuana. Residents and tourists alike flocked to now-open dispensaries both to purchase and to celebrate their new-found freedom, cheering as the doors opened. In Las Vegas fashion, many retailers held concerts, raffles or giveaways to draw in customers. Some even featured valet parking for the big event.
Nevada state Senator Tick Segerblom laid out the potential impact for Nevada tourism to the Las Vegas Sun: "Everything we know shows that millennials are very pro-marijuana, and that's the new marketing push. This is a game-changer for Las Vegas and tourism here as far as I'm concerned…Amsterdam on steroids."
Tourists are expected to account for roughly two thirds of the state's marijuana sales.
As expected, legalization comes with a long list of rules to accompany it. Smoking marijuana is only legal in private residences, so lighting up anywhere in public is subject to a $600 fine. Marijuana edibles, also, have come under strict scrutiny with new "emergency" laws altering the form and packaging the products must have taking effect just days before sales began.
Marijuana use of any kind is strictly prohibited on the Las Vegas Strip and in any gaming establishment in the state.
Purchasers must be 21, have a valid ID and can buy up to one ounce or 1/8 ounce concentrate. Dispensaries are cash-only establishments due to federal laws and the reluctance of banks to do any sort of business with the industry.
Driving while under the influence of marijuana is still very much against the law.
[READMORE] READ MORE: Las Vegas' Tallest Structure is Becoming a Best Western[/READMORE]
Recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 10 percent special sales tax which will be used to rebuild the state's "rainy day fund." $60 million in tax revenue is projected, though that may be a conservative estimate as neighboring Colorado pulled in $200 million last year according to MarketWatch.
Currently the most notable example and test case of legal marijuana's benefits and challenges, Colorado recently commissioned a study, covered by the Denver Post, that found 49 percent of tourists were influenced by the state's marijuana laws (either positively or negatively) while planning their trip and eight percent of tourists visited a dispensary on their visit.
Along with Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington are the only other states that currently allow recreational marijuana sales. California, Maine and Massachusetts are expected to be next to follow suit.
Michael Schottey is a freelance writer for TravelPulse. A professional writer and editor for over a decade, Schottey lives in...
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