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Who's buying pot in Nevada? More than a quarter of adults, according to survey

Who is buying cannabis in Nevada now that it’s legal for anyone over 21? More than a quarter of the state’s adults, according to a survey taken late this summer.

The figure comes from a survey of 1,000 cannabis consumers and potential users taken this August in five states that have legalized recreational marijuana, including 200 interviews from a representative sample in Nevada. It was presented at November’s Marijuana Business Conference by Ana Hory of the cannabis business consulting firm Enlucem, and represents rare data on marijuana use that can be hard to measure because of its stigma and a ban at the federal level and in many states.

The survey concluded that 28 percent of Nevada adults over the age of 21 have purchased cannabis within the past six months, and about 15 percent of the adult population is considered a “potential user” who plans to buy within the next six months.

Of those buyers, 28 percent purchase cannabis a few times per month, 19 percent buy it once a week and 19 percent buy it a few times a week.

Nevada ranks lower than other recreational marijuana states, such as Oregon, for the rate of cannabis use. The survey concluded that 36 percent of Oregonians had purchased a cannabis product in the past six months, and another 13 percent were potential users.

The estimated 500,000 Nevada adults who have purchased a cannabis product in the last six months is nearly 20 times the number of people who hold an active Nevada medical marijuana card (there were 24,803 cardholders in October, according to state records).

Riana Durrett, head of the Nevada Dispensary Association, couldn’t provide exact statistics on how many individuals have purchased marijuana legally since sales began on July 1, although a handful of retail stores have estimated that they’ve seen between 20,000 and 25,000 unique customers since legalization. Nevada has more than 50 dispensaries.

“These are often people who had been purchasing untested illegal marijuana from the illegal market, which is often connected to crime rings and violent crime,” she said. “Nevada’s retail stores are appreciative there is a significant demand that exists for medical and adult use marijuana in Nevada, but caution that taxes, regulatory, and operational costs must be maintained at a level that allows them to compete with the illegal market that does not pay taxes on sales.”

Who’s using?

Across the five states, cannabis users are demographically similar and trend younger and male, the research found. About 61 percent of users are male, 61 percent are 40 years old or younger, 43 percent are married and 35 percent have underage children in the home.

Three-quarters of users have an annual household income of $90,000 or less, and 51 percent have a full-time job.

Female cannabis users tend to be younger than their male counterparts — 37 percent range in age from 21 to 30, while 25 percent of male cannabis users are in that age bracket.

The survey also shed light onto why people use cannabis. Asked to choose one or the other, 46 percent of respondents said they view it as medicine, and 43 percent said they view it as a way to relax, unwind and have fun.

Among potential users, edible products such as marijuana gummies and candies are significantly more appealing than smoking a joint. Sixty-four percent of potential customers said they were interested in consuming edibles, while only 38 percent said they were interested in bud or flower.

Will Adler, director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, said that finding illustrates the stigma of smoking in general. Users who smoke marijuana are typically those who embrace cannabis culture, while more discreet edible products are more appealing to those who want to avoid the odor and image of marijuana, he said.

Nevada has struggled to predict how big its marijuana market would be, and state lawmakers ultimately decided to send recreational pot excise tax money to a rainy day reserve fund, in part because they didn’t want state programs dependent on what could be a wildly off-base revenue prediction.

The Nevada Department of Taxation’s revenue projections were based on data published by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, extrapolated across the state population in an effort to determine what percentage of Nevadans used marijuana in the past month and year. But the data is from 2015 and didn’t reflect a post-recreational marijuana climate, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

So far though, sales have outperformed projections. Nevada saw $88 million in recreational marijuana sales in the first three months, double the $43.6 million estimate for that time period (which assumed recreational sales would start a month later than they actually did).

In the U.S. overall, marijuana users are still far in the minority. A nationwide Gallup poll conducted in 2016, before California and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, found that 13 percent of Americans say they use pot and 43 percent say they’ve tried it at some point in their life.

That’s a far lower rate than the 62 percent of Americans who told Gallup this year that they drink alcohol.

But Adler cautioned that it’s tough to accurately poll marijuana use. Younger men may be more comfortable talking about their marijuana use, but others, including older generations raised under strict pot prohibition, may be reticent to admit they’re using it, even when promised confidentiality by a pollster.

“Just because they go and buy it doesn’t mean they tell their friends that or tell their country club that,” he said.

Judge recuses himself from bomb threat case

ELKO – A man accused of making a bomb threat against the courthouse will have to wait for another judge to accept his plea.

Casey D. Overacker, 34, of Spring Creek, appeared in Elko District Court before Judge Al Kacin Monday for arraignment on a charge of attempting to communicate a bomb threat, a category B felony.

Kacin recused himself from Overacker’s case, telling the defendant his actions disrupted court proceedings, including his own schedule.

“Obviously that impacts court operations,” Kacin said. “[It] could have very well impacted what I was doing that day.”

After verifying that he had Adult Drug Court scheduled the day of the bomb threat, Kacin decided to remove himself as judge from the case.

“I don’t think you want me to be the judge because that angers me greatly,” Kacin said. “And I don’t think I can be fair and impartial in this case.”

Attorney Jeff Kump, who represented Overacker, said he understood.

“I think if it would have been a bomb threat on some other date, maybe I wasn’t in session, that’s something I could maybe look past, but having my drug court and having somebody screw around with it, makes me apoplectic,” Kacin said.

“I’ll go ahead and step off that case,” Kacin said, deciding to remove himself from another arraignment hearing involving Overacker scheduled for the same day.

“I don’t believe I would be able to set aside the anger I feel for that type of action, so I’ll go ahead and step off the case,” Kacin said. “I’ll let another judge handle your case.”

Overacker allegedly called in a bomb threat to the Elko County Clerk’s office on June 19, the day his girlfriend, Shawna Parker, was scheduled to appear in court.

The building was evacuated and nothing suspicious was found, authorities said.

Overacker was arrested Oct. 4 at his home on a warrant issued in September after an investigation traced the phone number back to Parker.

Overacker remains in custody at the Elko County Jail.

“I don’t believe I would be able to set aside the anger I feel for that type of action, so I’ll go ahead and step off the case.” — District Judge Al Kacin

Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital today despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.

Trump will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by U.S. law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.

The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.

To that end, the officials said Trump will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move, which is required by U.S. law every six months. He will continue to sign the waiver until preparations for the embassy move are complete.

The officials said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be an acknowledgement of "historical and current reality" rather than a political statement and said the city's physical and political borders will not be compromised. They noted that almost all of Israel's government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries maintain embassies.

The U.S. officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to publicly preview Trump's Wednesday announcement. Their comments mirrored those of officials who spoke on the issue last week.

The declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a rhetorical volley that could have its own dangerous consequences. The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed U.S. security warning on Tuesday. America's consulate in Jerusalem ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.

Trump, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly promised to move the U.S. embassy. However, U.S. leaders have routinely and unceremoniously delayed such a move since President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1995 stipulating that the United States must relocate its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem unless the commander in chief issues a waiver on national security grounds.

Key national security advisers — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — have urged caution, according to the officials, who said Trump has been receptive to some of their concerns.

The concerns are real: Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence. Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a "deal of the century" that would end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. officials, along with an outside adviser to the administration, said they expected a broad statement from Trump about Jerusalem's status as the "capital of Israel." The president isn't planning to use the phrase "undivided capital," according to the officials. Such terminology is favored by Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and would imply Israel's sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for their own future capital.

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. But it's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the combustible center of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered volatile protests in the past, both in the Holy Land and across the Muslim world.

Within the Trump administration, officials on Tuesday fielded a flood of warnings from allied governments.

The Jerusalem declaration notwithstanding, one official said Trump would insist that issues of sovereignty and borders must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians. The official said Trump would call for Jordan to maintain its role as the legal guardian of Jerusalem's Muslim holy places, and reflect Israel and Palestinian wishes for a two-state peace solution.

Still, any U.S. declaration on Jerusalem's status ahead of a peace deal "would harm peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region," Saudi Arabia's King Salman told Trump Tuesday, according to a Saudi readout of their telephone conversation. Declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the king said, "would constitute a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world."

In his calls to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II, Trump delivered what appeared to be identical messages of intent. Both leaders warned Trump that moving the embassy would threaten Mideast peace efforts and security and stability in the Middle East and the world, according to statements from their offices.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a "red line" and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

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Zinke recommends shrinking Nevada monument

RENO (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended scaling back the size of the Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada on Tuesday, drawing praise from Republican Sen. Dean Heller but sharp criticism from congressional Democrats and conservationists who vowed to fight any such move.

Zinke said he would focus the limited changes on efforts to protect local governments’ access to water on the site.

The new size and boundaries for Gold Butte aren’t available because the maps aren’t final, but an area surrounding the water district at Spring Valley will be cut out, Zinke said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. He said keeping the water district within the monument would prevent maintenance, repairs and infrastructure.

“It was inappropriately put in the monument,” Zinke said. “That’s the revision.”

He’s also said he’s recommending making it “explicit” and not “implied” that hunting and fishing are allowed.

Zinke made no mention of plans for Nevada’s Basin and Range Monument.

Designated by President Obama under the Antiquities Act, Gold Butte protects more than 400 square miles of desert landscapes featuring rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise and other species.