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Las Vegas dispensary offers free joints to Nevada primary voters

Published on February 13, 2020 · Last updated July 29, 2020
The Source in Las Vegas wanted to give every voter a free pre-roll. Then they realized that was against the rules. So...spend $20, get a free pre-roll, voters! (Kemedo/AdobeStock)

Who doesn’t love getting the “I voted” sticker after passing through the ballot booth during election season? A badge of honor for many, the sticker often makes it way to car bumpers, desktops, and refrigerator doors.

It was a free joint, no strings attached, until somebody realized that's against the rules.

In Nevada, a cannabis store is raising the stakes. Voters in the Feb. 22 Democratic primary who wear the popular sticker to The Source outlets in Las Vegas and Henderson will get a free pre-roll, or so the dispensary proclaimed in a Monday morning press release.

Soon after sending that release, though, officials at The Source realized the free joint deal, while generous and patriotic, was not technically allowed under the state’s strict cannabis rules. Nevada’s Department of Taxation, which oversees the cannabis industry, prohibits stores from advertising or offering any marijuana product free without a purchase.

So they adapted. From Monday, Feb. 17, through Saturday, Feb. 22, adults 21 and older who come in to either of The Source’s two stores wearing an “I Voted” sticker will receive a complimentary pre-roll with a $20 purchase.

It’s not quite the same—but hey, it’s still a great deal.

Nevada could make or break candidates

The eight Democrat candidates in Nevada’s high-stakes caucus may need a joint to relax after an already-bruising primary season—and we’re only three states in.

The third state to hold voting in advance of November’s election, Nevada has been a remarkably accurate measuring stick for Democratic candidates in recent years.

In 2008, Barack Obama closely edged Hillary Clinton with 13 to 12 delegates in Nevada’s caucus-style scoring system, despite Clinton winning the Silver State’s popular vote. In 2016, Clinton beat Sanders by just five points and five delegates after polling as much as 25 points higher earlier that year.

Here’s how the caucus works

Nevada’s primary system combines elements of a voting-booth primary with a classic caucus.

Those who wish to cast an early ballot for their favorite contender can do so between Saturday, Feb. 15, and Tuesday, Feb. 18, at one of 80 voting stations around the state.

Those early votes are then tallied on caucus day—Saturday, Feb. 22—and combined with votes from the actual Saturday caucuses, which typically take place in community halls, school gymnasiums, or even hotel ballrooms. Delegates aren’t required to choose the candidate that received the most votes in their precinct, but normally do so to honor the will of the voters.

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Since the Iowa Democratic caucus fiasco, party officials in Nevada have been scrambling to make sure caucus results are reported accurately and on time. Plans to use the same app that crashed in Iowa were scrapped, and party officials have installed an iPad-based tool to carry out basic math and record the results.

The race is, um, very dynamic

Voter loyalties have proven to be fleeting and shifty in the past few weeks. Mid-January poll aggregations from FiveThirtyEight and 270toWin suggested a neck-and-neck race at the top between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who were each favored by 17 to 24 percent of likely voters. Elizabeth Warren came in third with about 12 percent, followed by Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg.

But after emerging as the surprise winner in Iowa and runner-up in New Hampshire, Buttigieg now has momentum, said Michael Green, a Nevada political historian and professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The recent push figures to vault the South Bend mayor up the Silver State’s leaderboard, mostly at the expense of Biden, Green said.

“Buttigieg is the hot candidate right now,” he said. “It’s amazing how much can change in a couple weeks.”

Here’s where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on cannabis

Where the candidates stand

Here’s a look at the leading candidates in the race in Nevada, and their stances on cannabis legalization:

Bernie Sanders

A co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act as well as his own legalization measures, Sanders has been a proponent of cannabis legalization for nearly two decades, dating back to his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sanders’ pro-marijuana stance is perhaps the boldest of any remaining candidates: He says he’d legalize the plant federally by executive action if he doesn’t receive the support of Congress.

Pete Buttigieg

The surprise Democratic contender is the only major candidate so far to tour a Nevada marijuana facility on the campaign trail. In October, Buttigieg found walk-throughs of Las Vegas testing lab GFive and dispensary Top Notch THC to be “helpful” in understanding how federal policy can catch up to cannabis legalization.

“I think people have a certain imagery of dispensaries and the marijuana industry that dates back to outdated stereotypes,” he said.

Buttigieg supports federal legalization of the plant as part of large-scale criminal justice reform. He argues that people who overuse cannabis and other drugs should be admitted to addiction treatment and seek mental health resources instead of getting thrown in jail.

Amy Klobuchar

The Minnesota senator and former prosecutor was a prohibitionist as recently as 2017. But after announcing her campaign for the presidency last year, said she now supports full adult-use marijuana legalization. Like several other Democrats, Klobuchar’s pro-legalization stance is part of a larger program of criminal justice reform to decrease the number of American, and especially minority, incarcerations.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren, like Sanders, co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act. Like Buttigieg, she also sees cannabis legalization as part of a big-picture criminal justice reform effort. In several televised debates and speeches, Warren has said legalization of the plant will help address racial inequality and lead to fewer people of color getting caught up in the criminal justice system.

Joe Biden

The former vice president’s 2020 bid is flailing, and a strong showing in Nevada will be key if Biden’s campaign wants to survive to Super Tuesday. Perhaps his longtime anti-cannabis stance is partly to blame. A longtime proponent of the War on Drugs, Biden has only in recent years taken a softer stance toward cannabis. He’s still against federal legalization of the plant, but says he wants a policy of decriminalization.

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Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis is a Las Vegas–based cannabis reporter. He has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Sun, Charlotte Observer, Houston Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, and Brazil's Rio Times, among other metropolitan dailies.
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