Takeaways – Will Las Vegas Skip the Next Recession Part 2

May 18, 2017
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This is Part 2 of a series titled Will Las Vegas Skip the Next Recession. Part 1 covered two major projects in the Raiders Stadium and Convention Center Expansion. If you missed it you can read it by clicking here

Part 2 of this series is near and dear to me. Not because of what you might be thinking after you read the title of the program was “Highlights of the Marijuana Industry”. Truth be told I’ve never been a pot guy. I’d much prefer this barrel proof rye or my absolute favorite from our friends at High Westin Park City Utah who put out a whiskey blend finished in French oak and port barrels. Aptly name A Midwinter Nights Dram after a Shakespeare play. Tough as heck to get because they only release it during the holidays. But I digress.

This post is about Nevada passing Question 2 legalizing recreational marijuana. It’s near and dear to me because I serve on the NAIOP Sothern Nevada Programs Committee. I personally had a ton of questions about Question 2 – like what exactly was passed… how does it affect me as an employer… will the Strip eventually become one big hotbox? (*that last one is a good link to click on – trust me).

So back to the near and dear part. I pitched the Programs Committee on the idea of bringing in the lobbyist who worked to get the bill passed, an operator of a marijuana dispensary and a broker from Denver who has transacted with tenants and buyers in the marijuana industry. They gave me their support and off we went.

April 20, 2017 NAIOP Breakfast Program – Beyond Medical. Highlights of the Marijuana Industry. Myths vs. Reality. The speakers were:

Joe Brezny Director of Political Operations for Carrara Nevada;
Andrew Jolley CEO of Nevada Organic Remedies;
Taylor Hazard commercial Broker with Cushman Wakefield.
And I was the moderator.

That morning 230 people attended. A typical NAIOP breakfast is attended by about 180 people. I don’t believe for a second I was the big draw. But like me, I believe people in our community have questions around this topic. A special thank you to Arnold Lopez with NV Energy  for sponsoring. More on Arnold at the very end.

  1. When will our community actually see the effects (physically) from recreational marijuana?
  2. Can employees in Southern Nevada refuse drug tests from employers because recreational use is legal?
  3. What will be the economic impact to our community from this industry?

As mentioned, this one was really interesting to me because I was the moderator. Let me spend just a bit of time on my Takeaways from that experience. If you are not interested in what I learned about being a moderator, and only want the information about recreational pot and the Nevada economy, skip down to the picture of the US map bellow.

You really have a responsibility when you agree to moderate something like this. The first responsibility is to the panelists. Get them all of the information that they need, as soon as you can get it to them, even if they don’t ask for it because they most likely don’t even realize that they need it. Information like:

  • When to arrive
  • Will they be fed
  • Where should they sit
  • What should they expect when they arrive
  • When will they be called up to speak
  • What time should they expect to leave

The next responsibility is to the audience. Listen… folks are spending their time with you and giving you their attention. You really want to provide value. Here are a few things I learned that were successful:

Be prepared – the NAIOP Programs Committee is so well organized. The standard of practice is for the moderator and panelists to get on a call a week or two before the program. On the call panelists have a chance to get acquainted and unpack the issues of the program.

Maximize the time talking about value topics – the first tactic I employed as the moderator was not to spend 5-7 minutes reading rap-sheet introductions of each panelist. Look, everyone gets it. Panelists get invited to the head table for a reason. Give one or two and let the audience google the rest. The second tweak we made was to the Q&A format. Instead of placing mics across the room, calling people up, and giving them the stage to give 3 minutes of background to a 30 second question… we provided note cards and pencils. We asked the audience to write down their questions… we appointed table captains to collect them… and had the Chair of the Program Committee filter and read questions from the floor. It took a bit of coordination but it was SO impactful.

Ok – let’s get into the nuggets of what we learned about the Pot. There was so much! In fact, some of the comments we received right after the hour program was that we could have continued talking for another hour and it would have been productive. Leave them wanting more tho right?! 🙂

So I am going to focus the Takeaways on the most significant points each panelist made and how this industry could affect our State economy. Because we are talking about how Las Vegas will fare in the next recession after all.

Joe Brezny – The Spokesman for Question 2:

  1. What exactly was passed in Question 2– You can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
  2. Why is July so significant– Question 2 provided legislators up until July to pass the regulation around the law.
  3. How does this affect employer/employees in Nevada– According to Joe – Question 2 actually increased protections for employers. Even with MJ being legal, you can fire employees for being under the influence at work, just like you can if they show up drunk.

Andrew Jolley – The Operator:

  1. What kind of licenses are there and how many– Medical Licenses: Dispensary (55); Cultivation (80); Production (40); Lab (11);
  2. How will Recreational licenses work– The “Early Start” program will give temporary ‘recreational’ licenses to existing ‘medical’ licensees. There will be a total limit of 130 licenses for recreational dispensaries.
  3. Concerns about the federal government shutting this down– Limited or no concern from the industry. The train has left the station. The horse has left the barn. The people (States) have spoken. It will be difficult, especially for a Republican administration, to go against the will of the States.

Taylor Hazard – The Out of State Broker:

  1. What about socially, have DUI’s increased and kids overdosed on edibles – No and no. The reality is if people were going to consume marijuana, they were able to get it before it was legal. Legalizing recreational use has not produced any negative outcomes in the community.
  2. How did this affect Colorado’s economy – Colorado State Cannabis Tax Revenue was +/- $140,000,000 in 2015 and $200,000,000 in 2016.

John Restrepo, Principal with RCG Economics was mentioned for putting together an Economic and Fiscal Benefit Analysis for the Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana in Nevada.

  1. He estimated total tax revenues could reach $464,000,000
  2. Total full-time jobs created could reach 40,978

All in all it was an incredible program. We collected piles of index cards proving there are lots of questions about this topic. We simply could not get to them all. A special nod goes out to Reed Gottesman who fielded the questions from the floor. And a specific thank you to the committee members who collected all of the cards from across the room. It took a coordinated effort to pull this off without a hitch.

Lastly, I have to say that our community has suffered an incredible loss May 17th with the passing of Arnold Lopez. I have had the pleasure to get to know Arnold over the years. He was genuinely dedicated to our community in Southern Nevada. May his memory be a source of blessings and strength for his family and loved ones. You are going to be missed Arnold Lopez.


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