What Cannabis Can Learn from Vegas

Canada and Las Vegas don’t have a lot in common. One is cold, one is hot. One is a desert, one is half tundra. In fact, other than for a (in Vegas’ case recently adopted) shared love of hockey, the two might never interact at all.

And yet, for certain Canadian companies in the cannabis industry, Vegas has many lessons worth learning.

Las Vegas is synonymous with one thing: gambling. And as most of you know, gambling is an industry that was once and in many places still is illegal. The parallels between that and cannabis are pretty obvious, and Forbes recently took the time to explain how those parallels could be to the benefit of the cannabis industry, if they follow Nevada’s lead.

“Vegas was a town that was built on regulation and compliance,” says Armen Yemenidjian, founder of Essence Cannabis Dispensary, one of the largest in Las Vegas. “Nevada was able to take that model of understanding how to roll out programs, regulate and enforce them and translate it almost directly to cannabis.”

Nevada is one of only ten states that has legalized cannabis for recreational use, but it is far ahead in converting that legalization into tax revenue. And that comes as a result of their history and experience with regulating the gaming and gambling industry.

Having that groundwork already makes rollout (no pun intended) a lot simpler too. Other states have struggled mightily to convince their growers to embrace regulation and oversight, but Nevada already has that expectation in place.

And as we know (and as the Netflix documentary “Murder Mountain” reinforces) the transition from an illegal industry to a legal industry is often bumpy one. But Nevada is proving yet again that it doesn’t have to be. And they reaped the rewards from a smooth transition, raking in $70 million of revenue from marijuana sales tax.

That’s a world where everyone wins, both the cannabis companies and the government overseers. That’s the world cannabis needs to live in, and they can learn how to do so from Nevada. Viva Las Vegas.

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