Clark County, Nevada Will Use Money from Weed Businesses to Fight Homelessness

Funds generated by Las Vegas’ recreational marijuana industry will be used to fight homelessness following a vote Tuesday by local lawmakers.
Clark County, Nevada Will Use Money from Weed Businesses to Fight Homelessness

Commissioners in Clark County, Nevada have passed a resolution allocating almost $1.8 million from the local commercial cannabis industry to help subsidize programs dedicated to providing assistance to the homeless.

A little more than $930,000 of the earmarked money will be provided to HELP of Southern Nevada’s rehousing services “for medically fragile, non-chronically homeless households after leaving local hospitals,” according to KTNV in Las Vegas. The station reported that a little more than $855,000 will be given to HELP “to assist the program costs” associated with a homeless youth center.

Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use in the 2016 election, one of four states to pass such measures during that cycle. Recreational dispensaries opened up for business in Nevada in the summer of 2017, enabling adults to buy as much as an ounce of marijuana flower, as well as an eighth of pot concentrates.

Earlier this year, commissioners in Clark County hit pause on efforts to open cannabis lounges in Las Vegas, opting at the time to defer to state lawmakers. But the Las Vegas City Council voted earlier this month to allow dispensaries to apply for permits to open such establishments, where customers are free to use marijuana products.

In December, Clark County commissioners placed a moratorium on recreational dispensary licenses, saying that medical patients had been snubbed by the industry. But by the end of 2018, the county had already racked up millions of dollars in licensing fees for dispensaries where customers can purchase the products.

The end of prohibition has city leaders fantasizing about Las Vegas becoming a true mecca for weed tourism; it has also been seen as a potentially huge revenue source to alleviate some of the community’s problems.

To that end, the effort to use funds to support homeless programs began in January, when the Clark County commissioners approved earmarking the feeds to support the thousands of homeless individuals in the area. The amount of money directed from the marijuana fees was capped at $12 million annually.

When the commissioners took up the measure in January, there was debate over where to invest those funds, with some lawmakers favoring a strategy that prioritized housing. Others advocated a more flexible strategy that would avail funds for other services, such as financial assistance.

In 2016, a majority of voters in Nevada (54%) approved Question 2, also known as the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which legalized the drug for individuals aged 21 and over. California, Massachusetts and Maine passed similar measures that same year.

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