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Nevada Defies Sessions Crackdown Warning, Pushes Ahead With Marijuana Clubs

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Officials are pushing forward with a bill legalizing pot clubs in Nevada, ignoring federal threats and rhetoric against marijuana that suggests a looming crackdown on state laws.

Many states with liberal marijuana laws are stopping previous efforts to expand the scope of their laws, fearing it will invite federal raids on local dispensaries and put residents at legal risk. Lawmakers in Nevada, however, are not letting federal uncertainty stall the progress of their state’s marijuana program. The bill makes it legal for localities across Nevada to approve social clubs and other public settings for using marijuana, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is provoking anxieties within the industry with his harsh rhetoric on marijuana. “There’s more violence around marijuana than one would think, and there’s big money involved.” he said in February.

The legislation passed with overwhelming support in the state senate Tuesday and is heading to the full legislature for final approval. If the proposal secures passage, Nevada will become the first state to legalize social pot clubs.

“Tourists don’t have a home in Nevada,” state Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill’s sponsor, said Tuesday, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’re trying to get $70 million in tax revenue from them. So let’s give them some place to use it.”

Colorado could have been the first state to approve marijuana clubs, but officials recently paused their efforts, arguing pushing expanded pot laws could draw the ire of Sessions. Lawmakers in the state were advancing bipartisan legislation that would allow social pot use at private, state licensed marijuana clubs, however, support evaporated due to the uncertainty over federal marijuana policy.

Sessions, a stanch opponent of legalization, is currently reviewing the Cole Memorandum, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct DOJ to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws.

Marijuana advocates likely won’t know the true intentions of the Justice Department regarding legal pot until July when the task force reviewing the department’s policy will give Sessions recommendations on how to proceed.

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