Free zone

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Driving around Reno over Fourth of July weekend—including that random work day shoved into the middle there—you might have noticed the long lines of people standing outside, waiting, as if to ride a fantastic roller coaster, or get a book signed by a famous author, or attend the world’s most confusing nightclub. You might have wondered: What are all these people actually waiting for?

The answer, of course, is cannabis.

A handful of local dispensaries were allowed to start selling recreational marijuana as of midnight the morning of July 1. People showed up in droves, many of them from out of state. (Despite the fact that Nevada has long been behind the curve on cannabis, recreational legalization took effect here before it did in California.) So, those long lines of people were pouring money into the local economy—including a hefty 10 percent sales tax. Unlike some other industries, which have taken big corporate-welfare handouts from state and local coffers, cannabis is making money for the people of Nevada. But those out-of-town folks better have some local friends because public consumption is still illegal, and cannabis is banned in the casinos.

And I can’t help but feel some anger on behalf of all the Nevadans still currently serving prison sentences on possession charges courtesy of the state’s previously draconian marijuana prohibition laws.

Regardless, and despite wildfires and troubling international news, local Fourth of July celebrations felt extra jubilant this year—probably a bit like the celebrations in December of 1933 after the repeal of alcohol prohibition. You could literally smell freedom in the air.

Remember: If you want to head out to—just to pick a random example—the RN&R-sponsored Rollin’ on the River concert featuring Jelly Bread this Friday at Wingfield Park, you can’t get high and then drive, and you can’t actually toke in the park.

But you sure as hell can do so beforehand.