Economy goes to pot: Officials weigh in on impacts of legalized marijuana – Las Vegas Optic

Pot shop

A nighttime shot of Smoke n Body 2.0 at 1213 National Ave. in Las Vegas. General manager Joseph Jaramillo expects the store to benefit now that the sale of recreational marijuana has been legalized.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series focusing on how the Las Vegas and San Miguel economy will be affected by the legalized sale of marijuana come April 1.

Joseph Jaramillo has no doubt his Las Vegas businesses will benefit from the state legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana starting on April 1.

“A lot of the older generations will be more free (to purchase marijuana) and it will be more acceptable,” said Jaramillo, the general manager for Smoke n Body 2.0 at 1213 National Ave. and Smoke n Body Main at 1822 7th St. 

The stores offer Cannabidiol, or CBD products, for treating things like insomnia and inflammation and providing cancer relief in addition to pipes and bongs.

A local professor and municipal leaders also expect that the Las Vegas and San Miguel County economy will benefit.

“I would expect more cannabis stores opening up,” said Dr. Ali Arshad, who teaches economics and finance at New Mexico Highlands University. “The city will get a share of the gross receipts tax and be collecting their own tax from the sale of cannabis.” 

Arshad, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Connecticut, said the state will levy a tax.

“The legislation they have passed at the state level will allow them to collect a 12 percent excise tax, which is scheduled to go up to 18 percent in 2025,” he said. “The state always shares revenue.”

“Looked at what happened in Colorado and California,” Arshad continued. “These small towns have actually benefited quite a lot. The most important reason is it’s a source of revenue that didn’t exist before.”

District 1 county commissioner chairman Harold Garcia, who represents  West Las Vegas, Camp Luna, Montezuma and the  Gallinas Canyon, believes the legalization could have a positive effect on the economy. He however worries about the need for water to grow marijuana.

“We’ve had so much drought over the last few years,” Garcia said. “It’s becoming part of the norm. It’s hard to predict if it will get better.”

He’s also concerned about youth indulging.

“I don’t want kids to think it’s free for them to just start smoking,” Garcia said. “That worries me. You know, if kids want to do it, they’re going to do it.”

Jaramillo believes it will take pot off the black market, making it more difficult for youth to get. 

“This will throw everything into the regulatory system,” he said. “You will need to show ID to get it, like alcohol. I think it will get it out of kids’ hands.”

City mayor Louie Trujillo welcomes new business to the city.

“It’s a good opportunity for our municipality to take advantage of the tax money,” Trujillo said. “I think it’s up to 6 to7 percent of the sale of recreational cannabis. I looking forward to the windfall so we can put it back into the police department and fire department and maybe the arts.”

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