State officials recently said that Nevada still plans to launch recreational cannabis sales in July in spite of warnings of a federal restriction by the administration of President Donald Trump. Cannabis possession and sales are illegal under federal law, but Nevada voters decided in November to allow people age 21 or older to use pot recreationally. White House spokesman Sean Spicer recently said that the United States Justice Department will step up enforcement of federal laws restricting recreational cannabis. No immediate action accompanied the statement, came in response to a reporter’s question.
That has not cued the Nevada agency tasked with crafting rules governing recreational cannabis sales to change its timeline for ensuring dispensaries can open this summer, said agency spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein. She stated, “As of now, the Department of Taxation is moving forward with our regulation development as planned.” The Democratic leader of Nevada’s state Senate, Aaron Ford, criticized the White House for what he called an “overzealous attack on the will of Nevada voters.” Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is currently budgeting tens of millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue over the next two years to fund public education.
Ford stated, “Any action by the Trump administration would be an insult to Nevada voters and would pick the pockets of Nevada’s students.” He also claimed increased enforcement of the nation’s drug laws would constitute “federal overreach” and asked Nevada’s Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt to make a statement similar to that of Washington state’s vow to fight any crackdown. Federal laws preempt state laws, but former President Barack Obama gave the states leeway to establish cannabis industries as long as they keep the drug from crossing state lines and away from children and drug cartels. It is unclear exactly what Trump’s administration will do.
Laxalt is analyzing the issue, spokeswoman Monica Moazez said. She stated, “Not every action taken by the federal government, much less every statement made by the president or his staff, constitutes federal overreach. Our office will continue to monitor this situation and analyze it according to the law and the Constitution, not speculate or jump to conclusions.” Nevada voters first voted to legalize medical cannabis in 1998 and gave final approval in 2000. After legal quarreling in the Legislature and local municipalities, the first prescription-only dispensaries opened in 2015. Trump said during his campaign for the White House that he does not oppose medical cannabis.