Tick Segerblom on Nevada Legalization: ‘It’s a Work in Progress’

Nevada State Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom descends from a long line of legislators. In November, he’s running for a spot on the Clark County Commission. Segerblom, who’s also an attorney, was instrumental in getting marijuana legalized in the Silver State and continues to monitor developments. He’s also a member of Freedom Leaf’s board of directors.

Was it inevitable that you would go into politics?

I’m a fourth-generation Nevada legislator. My great-grandfather was a state senator from Winnemucca, my grandmother was an assemblywoman from Winnemucca and my mother was an assemblywoman from Boulder City, so I’d say it was inevitable that I would try to serve to keep the streak going. Seriously, I had a keen interest from early on because I saw how government could have a very positive role in a community and be a force for good. I got my first chance working for Jimmy Carter’s administration and never looked back.

You’ve been a member of the Nevada legislature since 2007. What have been your greatest accomplishments?

There are many bills I’m proud to have signed onto, including increased education funding and greater worker protections. I’m especially proud of working with other legislators to create the state’s first workable medical marijuana framework in 2013 and then working to improve that system in 2015 and 2017. We’ve come a very long way since voters first put the right to medical marijuana in the state’s constitution in 2000.

You supported Question 2, which Nevada voters approved in 2016. How is marijuana legalization in Nevada working so far?

It’s a work in progress, but it is working very well. The industry now employs thousands of Nevadans, provides millions in tax revenue and the businesses themselves have been models for other states to look at as they explore legalization. The product itself is safe and well tested. We still have a long way to go in criminal justice for people who were convicted for marijuana offenses for what is now, and should have always been, legal.

What are the reasons why Nevada was able to implement legalization relatively quickly compared to other states like Washington, California and Massachusetts?

We modeled our medical marijuana program on the recreational program in Colorado, so when the voters approved Question 2 we only had to flip a switch to convert medical to recreational. We also have a very dedicated industry and a talented group of civil servants who labored hard to create a rigorous but workable system that got off the ground quickly. There are a lot of rules, but the rules have helped ensure we have a good system and a working market.

“By this time next year, we’ll have pot lounges with alcohol and/or food in Nevada. However, there won’t be marijuana in casinos anytime soon.”

How soon do you envision “public use” of cannabis in adult-oriented businesses like bars, clubs, casinos, etc. in Nevada and specifically Clark County?

By this time next year, we’ll have pot lounges with alcohol and/or food.  We’ll also have cannabis health spas where you can do yoga and Pilates and have massages, and hopefully not long after that have cannabis events and festivals. Las Vegas is working on legislation for that now. I’m seeking election to the county commission and want to make this a priority at the county level as well. This is one of the next big steps for the industry.  However, there won’t be marijuana in casinos anytime soon.

What’s your advice for fellow lawmakers who want to end cannabis prohibition in their states?

Work together. This is not a partisan issue. It can be approached from many angles—business, criminal justice, healthcare—but the common thread is to work seriously toward a good law that will create a solid industry and market. The voting public is there on marijuana. The key is to convince the politicians that all hell won’t break loose if they legalize it the right way.

You’re currently running for the Clark County Commission. Your campaign website has a section about marijuana that recommends establishing a “marijuana bank” in Clark County? How would that work?

The banking issue is very important because marijuana is not yet decriminalized at the federal level. The problem we’re trying to solve is to provide marijuana establishments a safe way to make deposits. Since it’s a cash-only industry, there are security concerns. A county-run bank would take deposits and help stabilize the industry. I’d look to partners to help iron out the details, but that’s the idea.

Tick Segerblom (right) on the Nevada Senate floor

You also call for “justice for the victims of the failed War on Drugs.” Has Nevada expunged arrest records for marijuana offenses yet?

No. This was vetoed at the state level last year. But we can always try again. Meanwhile, I’ve encouraged the district attorney to work with residents to help seal records. It’s not the optimal way to do it, but it’s the only thing we can do right now.

Why leave the Senate to work on the commission?

They’re very different. At the county level, you’re working directly with everything from major developments and infrastructure projects to ensuring potholes are filled on residential streets. It’s much more hands-on than the state level, where legislators are crafting laws and policies but often aren’t directly involved in implementing them. I’m looking forward to putting some of the ideas I promoted in Carson City into practice in Clark County.

How close are we to federal cannabis legalization?

That won’t happen until after the 2020 election, but if Democrats take over Congress this year, anything is possible.

Do you think President Trump would sign a bill that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing it?

He would be crazy not to. His base—old, blue-collar, white men—love marijuana.

Freedom Leaf has perfectly positioned itself to take advantage of the next wave, which is hemp.

Will Trump win reelection in 2020?

No!!

What do the Democrats have to do to prevent Trump from winning a second term?

Win this November and then keep fighting like hell until he’s either impeached or defeated. We can’t take anything for granted.

Who would be the Democrats’ best opponent to challenge Trump?

I supported Bernie Sanders in the last election because he was willing to speak truth to power. Now, all the prospective Democratic candidates have adopted his platform. Let’s have a spirited primary election and may the best woman win.

You joined Freedom Leaf’s board of directors in May. What’s your vision for the company?

Freedom Leaf is special because everyone involved has been in the marijuana movement from day one, and they and the company have evolved as the movement has evolved. In addition to its huge media presence, Freedom Leaf has perfectly positioned itself to take advantage of the next wave, which is hemp. Wherever the cannabis industry goes, Freedom Leaf is already there waiting to be discovered.

Would you like to be governor of Nevada one day?

I’m almost 70, so realistically County Commission will be my last elected position. By the time I retire, I anticipate that marijuana will be just like alcohol and fully accepted by society.

More Freedom Leaf Interviews

Tommy Chong

DPA’s Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

BioTrackTHC’s Patrick Vo

Ethan Nadelmann

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