Recreational Marijuana, Sustainable Education Funding for the 21st Century

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Photo accredited to keywordsuggest.org

On election night 2016, Nevada went mostly blue and even a little green. As vote-counting concluded in Nevada, ballot measure 2 succeeded in legalizing recreational marijuana by a margin of just under 100,000 votes. Thus, recreational marijuana will be legal across the state, ensuring that all Nevada schools receive a slice of the 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana revenues.

State counties will be able to determine the location of dispensaries, however, they will not be permitted to outright prohibit businesses from entering their towns.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Assistant Manager at Reef Dispensaries in Sparks, Angel Pailor had this to say, “Cannabis has a bad perception but now after 50 years or so, I think that times are changing, and it’s a good thing to change that perception of like ‘Oh, it’s a hardcore drug’ and it’s a gateway drug when it’s totally not like that.”

“I think it’s awesome because you don’t see people in the alcohol lobby or in pharmaceutical drugs offering even to help schools out”, she added.

The law allows for adults of at least 21 years of age to possess, consume and cultivate a small and personal amount of marijuana. Fiscally, recreational marijuana business will begin to pump money into local schools once their tax infrastructure is built. The Department of Taxation will be charged the duty to regulate and administer facilities that produce, cultivate and dispense marijuana products.

According to the initiative’s specifics on ballotpedia.org, one major aspect of this is collecting a 15 percent excise tax upon the wholesale value of marijuana sold by these facilities that will then be deposited into the State Distributive School Account. Supporters of the bill have projected profits of more than $350 million statewide by the end of 2018, according to an article written by Seth A. Richardson in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

How will this affect my kids and our schools? It is a question surely on many Nevadan parents’ minds, one month removed from election night. Stacey Smith is a teacher of world history at Wooster High School in Reno. “They’ve learned to use it when they’re vaping.”, she said.  “They’ve caught kids using in the vape pens, so then they don’t actually get busted for it. We had an incident a couple weeks ago where a kid was actually caught smoking in class.” Still, she does not see a large-scale problem of high accessibility in her school.

Smith went on to differentiate between a few bold students and that of the entire student body. “As far as if it’s a real issue [at Wooster] I don’t think it’s a huge issue.”

A parent of students at the University of Nevada, Reno and Fernley High School, Ramona Campbell offered her opinion. “I don’t do it and I don’t like it, and even I don’t agree with other people who smoke, but I prefer it be legalized and that people pay the right taxes.” On the 15 percent excise tax, she added, “It’s good, it’s the right thing to do.”

Additionally, a common fear is the accessibility to edibles packaged similarly to common candies. Pailor admonishes, “We have our own Sour Patch Kids, but we call them Sour Hash Kids.” Countering the parental fear, she offered her business’ explanation, “We want to support schools and also keep the kids safe. I feel like the reason they kind of make them look like [candy] is it’s appealing to adults, it’s just the nostalgia factor to a lot of people.”

“I don’t like that idea, sorry”, Ramona Campbell responded. She feels that the market for edibles is made up of young and future smokers. “Children who have access to candies with marijuana, can you believe it then? They’re going to start to be addicted, and it’s not good.”

Still, Nevada smokers may be in for a wait before they can enter Reef Dispensaries without a medical card. Angel Pailor explained a halting transfer of power, “We’re hoping the earliest will be summer of 2017, but realistically it’s probably not going to be until the beginning of 2018. The Department of Behavioral Health are the people that handle health cards and everything like that, and when it goes recreational the Department of Taxation is going to be handling that. Once they get their tax infrastructure set up, that is what we’re waiting on for us to get the go ahead to become recreational.”

“I don’t think the district is doing anything about it across the board because it’s going to take awhile. They’ve got to get that infrastructure, get the licenses out for people to have dispensaries”, Smith responded to a question on steps the Washoe County School District is taking in regards to marijuana legalization. She supports the taxation from the bill benefitting schools like Wooster High, but still addresses the fact that schools will not see a dollar from recreational marijuana until the tax infrastructure is built.

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