Missouri cannabis activists will be watching from the sidelines again as another state scrambles to hire hundreds of cannabis industry workers and braces for tens of millions of retail cannabis sales to adults starting this summer.
Nevada state officials couldn’t wait until January 1, 2018 to start their voter-approved adult-use cannabis market. The state’s tax officials approved temporary regulations at the end of May for retail cannabis sales mid-2017. Now the rush is on to get ready for retail cannabis sales July 1.
The early start program is only open to existing medical cannabis dispensaries, growers and processors who must file for a temporary retail license. About 190 of these cannabis business entities exist in the state. As these established businesses obtain “early start” licenses the rush has started to hire additional staff and build out facilities.
The early adult-use program will make Nevada the fifth state with an operational recreational cannabis market. Since tourism adds millions of dollars to the state’s economy, a large percentage of cannabis sales will go to tourists.
Using Colorado as an example of the power of cannabis tourism, 90% of all retail cannabis sales are to out-of-state tourists in the heavily visited mountain corridor regions. Nevada could also reap a sales bonanza from visiting tourists.
Las Vegas had more than 40 million visitors in 2016. That is almost as many tourists as former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon estimated (43 million) would visit the entire “Show-Me” state at the end of 2016.
Using the national average of adult-use cannabis estimate of 10.8% (2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services), Nevada could see yearly cannabis sales of $375 million to $425 million to tourists.
When Missouri establishes a legal and regulated retail cannabis market, sales to tourists could add several hundred million dollars to a retail market estimated at around $400 million. No legal cannabis sales will materialize in Missouri without a successful citizen initiative or federal rescheduling.