Clark County Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2006 and moved on to the Senate in 2012. He is a member of a family with a long Nevada history—his mother was a state legislator before him. He has been a leader in ending marijuana prohibition. We interviewed him at the Reno Cannabis Convention last weekend.
All along, a lot of elected officials were scared of this issue—still are. You jumped right in the middle of it. Why?
I knew that it was an issue that was ripe for attention, and I thought I could stick my name to it because I thought I had a little prominence. And I knew from personal experience that it’s not dangerous, so it’s kind of a natural fit, but I had no idea of what I was jumping on. I thought I was jumping on, like, a little trike, and it turned out it was like a locomotive. This thing is taking off, and politicians will be left at the station. I think most politicians actually are coming around, though.
There’s still a federal sword of Damocles hanging over this whole thing.
Everything. Just probably talking today is a felony because you’re encouraging people to use a felonious substance. It’s pretty amazing how we’ve developed this whole industry in which people are felons by being involved in this.
The Trump administration is nothing if not unpredictable. Is there any chance, do you think, that it would pull a clampdown?
I honestly don’t. I think the horse is out of the barn. They can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There would be riots in the streets. The problem for Trump is … a lot of the constituencies are his people, and his elected officials who are supporting him would just really be in [elective] danger.
During the Obama administration, U.S. attorneys in California clamped down on dispensaries. Is there any reason to believe they might not do it again in whatever jurisdiction?
Well, if you look at the ones they clamped down on, they were kind of test cases as far as being close to churches or whatever. But then the Cole Memo came out and said, “As long as you do these things, we’re going to [keep] hands off.” And so billions of dollars invested—over 300 million just in Nevada—and then to come in and say, “Oh, by the way, all that money? We’re going to change the rules, and we’re going to shut you down.” I don’t think it will happen. … People would freak out. It would send a message, for sure.