I-Team: Joint Effort: Nevada's Marijuana Future - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Joint Effort: Nevada's Marijuana Future

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LS VEGAS -- In a state known for legalized gambling and prostitution, even card-carrying patients have great difficultly getting marijuana. But in Colorado, it's now legal for any adult to walk into a store and buy a joint.

Medical marijuana is legal in Nevada. It was legalized by the voters in 2001. But state lawmakers delayed approval -- until last year -- on how to buy it and now local city councils continue the delay.

The I-team visited Colorado to witness firsthand their marijuana experiment is going.

Nick Kjolhede and the "Cutthroat Drifters" didn't need to hit the streets to buy marijuana. Kjolhede just went to his neighborhood store.

"I came for two joints. That's all," Kjolhede said.

He went to the Denver Kush Club, one of dozens of retail marijuana dispensaries opened this year.

POLL: Should Nevada legalize marijuana?

"It's $12.50. At the place on 17th, it's almost $13. It's the same exact deal. I love this competition stuff. I can dig on that," Kjolhede said.

Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, most customers don't want their face shown. People can still be fired for having marijuana appear on a drug test. Denver's medicinal marijuana business was just a few years old when Colorado voters approved legalizing marijuana purchases for all adults, including out-of-state tourists, nicknamed "smoke birds."

"It's a little hard not to say medicine or patients anymore. Now it's just weed and customers," said Joaquin Ortega, Denver Kush Club owner.

Denver Councilman Charlie Brown predicted rampant pot smoking on the streets of Denver if it was legalized.

"The headlines in an Australian paper was, a couple of days ago, 'Move Over Amsterdam, Here Comes Colorado.' It is what it is. I didn't vote for this, but 56 percent of the people in my district did," Brown said. "I was concerned about that image and I think there are plenty of reasons to come to Colorado rather than just buy weed."

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But when recreational marijuana users appeared to follow the laws against public smoking, Brown switched from opposing it to welcoming the new business.

"Someone walked into my office a year ago and said, 'I got a half-million dollars, should I invest in the marijuana business?' I said, 'have you thought about going to Vegas? because it's a gamble.'"

Las Vegas markets itself as Sin City but has old drug laws that seem right out of the film "Reefer Madness."

"The fact that we would encourage porn to come here and we couldn't purchase marijuana for people having cancer, it's hard to believe," said Nevada state Senator Tick Segerblom.

Nevadans Embrace Medical Marijuana, but not Legalization

Segerblom, a Democrat, led the charge for Nevada lawmakers to listen to the will of the voters and regulate medicinal marijuana. But ask state regulators now and they can't give a clear date when the first pot business permits will be given. And local cities from Las Vegas to Henderson have put on the brakes with months-long moratoriums.

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin points out some on the council wanted to halt business applications for a full year.

"I felt if we did that, we would be saying to the legislature, we don't care what you did. It's going to take us a while ... just maybe we'll get it done in a couple of years. That's not helping people that are sick," Coffin said.

But while medical marijuana patients still get their medicine in Colorado, dispensaries there realize the real money is in fulfilling people's desire to simply get high.

"The indicas (particular strain of marijuana) are like the body high. For me, that's kinda what makes me feel more - stupid," said Sarah Overbeck, Denver Kush Club employee.

The experiment in Colorado does just that. It gives people the freedom to feel more "stupid," or whatever sensation they are looking for to take away the stress of daily life or just to have fun.

 

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