Opinion: Let’s Talk Pot

Medical MarijuanaBy Tim Conder, Co-Founder and CEO, Blackbird Logistics

Since the first dispensaries opened in Summer 2015, the growth of the medical marijuana industry in Nevada has occurred at a rapid pace. To date there are 45 licensed dispensaries open in the state with a couple dozen still on the way. The patient number has grown steadily from a measly 4,000 a year and a half ago to over 13,000 today.

Nevada is versed in undertaking the planning, regulation and implementation of industries that operate in a legal gray area (i.e. gaming). Maybe due to this experience navigating fringe markets, Nevada has created a robust yet heavily regulated medical marijuana infrastructure. Patients are able to purchase a growing variety of medications from licensed operators in most major cities. There is no shortage of medication or product. The medication that patients purchase is tested thoroughly for harmful contaminants, including pesticides, by licensed laboratories. If patients are home bound, or cannot drive to the nearest dispensary, they can have their medication delivered right to their door. That is where we come in. I am the co-founder and CEO of Blackbird Logistics – “Blackbird.” We are an ancillary service to the medical marijuana industry. Blackbird facilitates both wholesale and retail transportation and delivery throughout the state.

Blackbird is voting Yes on Question 2. We believe that marijuana is not only a viable source of relief for many ailing patients, but that it is also a safe and natural substance that should be available for recreational use by responsible adults.

Yes, there are pieces of this legislation that are not ideal, as is the case with most legislation. The main component that I can speak to is the inclusion of a three-tier distribution system (the same model by which alcohol is distributed in the state). This addition was most likely lobbied for by existing alcohol distribution companies hoping to cash in on an emerging industry. And, there is something to be said for a structure that has operated safely in its own lane for many years. But this is our turf.

The marijuana industry –licensed medical marijuana establishments and ancillary businesses like Blackbird – is a tight-knit community. Although the market is competitive, there is an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and shared struggle. Licenses were not easy to obtain. The building and opening of these businesses was even more difficult. Staying afloat in a market with a finite number of patients defies the impossible. Luckily, most operators are driven by a desire to help people in need by providing safe access to life-changing medication. That desire, coupled with well-written and enforced regulation will create a market that not only benefits patients and (hopefully) recreational users, but the State of Nevada as a whole.

"Vote here" signAfter three years, the bill can be revised by legislators and can be fine-tuned to better fit the needs and requirements of both citizens and the State. We can make it the perfect piece of legislation if we are diligent and committed to doing so. Currently, the initiative is only 12 pages long (very short by drafting standards). The code around its implementation has not been written. The Department of Taxation has not decided where tax revenue will be allocated. We can help steer those choices – getting money to our schools, funding infrastructure projects to make our communities safer and more efficient, allocating funds to programs that keep minor drug offenders out of crowded prisons and help them to successfully re-engage as recovered citizens, and on and on. In Colorado, tax revenues exceeded $135 million dollars in 2015 – which went directly to fund the building of schools, illegal drug prevention campaigns, bullying prevention in schools, drop-out prevention school grants, youth mentoring services, poison control centers and more. Rough projections for Nevada put us at 6,000 new jobs, $1 billion in added revenue to the state’s economy, and $120 million in tax dollars generated.

We can do so much. And we should. Please join me in voting Yes on 2.

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