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Sandoval summons gaming panel to address recreational pot

Updated September 20, 2017 - 2:17 pm

Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed an executive order summoning the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee to address the tangled issues of recreational marijuana use and how it affects the gaming industry.

Sandoval issued the order Tuesday.

The 12-member committee, chaired by the governor, includes representatives from the Senate, the Assembly, the Nevada Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board and executives in the gaming industry.

The committee can be called by the governor to address topics specifically related to gaming.

The order directs the committee to meet no later than Dec. 15 and make its recommendations to the governor, the commission and the Control Board on or before June 15.

“Since passage of Question 2, I have called for Nevada’s marijuana industry to be well-regulated, restricted and respected,” Sandoval said in a statement issued with the executive order.

“Gaming regulators have been clear on the prohibition of marijuana consumption on licensed gaming properties but there are additional policy considerations such as industry events and business relationships that should be contemplated,” he said.

“The Gaming Policy Committee is the right organization to take up these important issues unique to Nevada due to the state’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana and our gold standard gaming reputation.”

The Gaming Commission began having a series of policy discussions about the intersection of recreational marijuana and Nevada’s gaming industry last month. Alamo, who said he wanted to bring clarity to issues involving pot usage and resorts, said he’s delighted that the governor decided to convene the committee.

“The Gaming Policy Committee, with the governor as chairman, is a great venue to have those discussions again on both sides of the podium,” Alamo said Wednesday.

“(Committee meetings are) well attended and the press comes in large numbers which tends to be the vehicle that disseminates the information to the masses,” he said.

Alamo said he received a high volume of calls from licensees and others as far back as 2014 when Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson issued an industry notice about medical marijuana use and casinos. With the approval of recreational marijuana use by voters last November, Alamo said he has seen a rise in misinformation and misinterpretation about the topic, which is why he set out to have monthly discussions on various aspects of law and practice.

Alamo said he would remove the marijuana discussions from the commission agenda in favor of airing policy in committee meetings.

State Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom, one of the leading legislative advocates for the marijuana industry, said he’s pleased that the governor asked the committee to tackle the topic.

“I think this really relates more to the Gaming Commission’s discussion about conventions and not allowing any kind of marijuana-related businesses to hold any functions at their hotels,” Segerblom said.

“We can’t exclude small conventions because they deal with grow lights, marijuana banking and safety procedures, things that are ancillary to the marijuana business,” he said. “It’s a huge business and, frankly, we’re going to be one of the leading places in the world to have these kinds of discussions. The way I read it, they didn’t want to have those kinds of conventions and that’s entirely inappropriate.”

Segerblom said policymakers can’t ignore the potential the pot industry has.

“These are all new frontiers, but we can’t just stick our heads in the sand,” he said. “It’s a great business opportunity for Nevada that we need to be talking about.”

The Gaming Policy Committee met last year and directed state regulators to draft rules on taking esports bets in a discussion about technology policy. During that discussion, the committee aired the state’s stance on daily fantasy sports, ultimately determining it to be a form of gambling that requires licensing by companies that offer it.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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