Nevada’s Senator Richard Segerblom, or Tick for short (because “Tick is better than Dick” according to him), is a fourth generation public servant for the state of Nevada, and huge advocate for the legalization and normalization of cannabis. Largely due to his efforts, the state of Nevada is now added to the list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana, so we sat down with Tick and talked about everything from his days of smoking in the White House to his love for our DOPEN while streaming live on Facebook. We even had our live viewers jump in for some questions direct from YOU!
DOPE Magazine: You are a fourth generation Nevada public servant, your great grandfather, your grandmother, your mother and now you. Did you always know you wanted to follow in those footsteps?
Senator Tick Segerblom: I think it was assumed that I would eventually run to keep the tradition going but it kinda happened randomly as far as the time of my life. I was hoping to do it later in life but a seat became available where I live and I took the opportunity. It’s one of those things where we’re very smalltime legislature so it’s not like we’re running for governor or something. It’s a neat thing to have in your family and I thought I would carry on the tradition.
Q: So I know that when I first met you, you were an attorney here in Las Vegas. So how did your start in politics begin? Did you run for the seat immediately or how did it play out?
A: Well I’ve been in politics all my life. I worked for President Carter back in the 70s. I worked in the 90s and then I was in the legislature in 2007, so this is basically my third political career. I was hoping to be a legislature at some point and a seat became available at some point so I ran in 2007.
Q: Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. Right now there isn’t really an outlet for tourists who come here who purchase marijuana to consume. What do we have upcoming as far as consumption lounges and events that are going to be cannabis friendly? Where does that space lie and what do we have to look forward to?
A: That’s one of the problems. I had a bill that started the process and that was defeated this last legislature. What I believe will allow local governments to go forward with some type of permanent process based upon the legal analysis that I provided. It’s really up to the cities and counties, what they want to do, but we can’t have forty million tourists come here, encourage them to buy and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, there is no place to use it.’ Everyone that comes here wants to go to a restaurant like this or they want to get on a bus or Amsterdam street or go to a concert… this is the vice capital of the world. So if you are gonna have a vice and you are actually gonna sell and make money on it, you have to have a place where people can engage in the vice. It’s gonna happen but it’s not gonna happen tomorrow. May take 6 months to a year before it starts.
Q: Well we’re excited to see where that ends up! I know that we are looking forward to bringing some of our bigger picture DOPE events like DOPE Cup and our Industry Awards. We are looking forward to being able to do large scale consumption friendly events!
A: I think there is no place better in the world for that. It’s easy to get here. There are great hotel rooms to stay at. That’s what we do. We do big events, big parties. To me, the combination is so perfect. It is hard to believe that the politicians aren’t collaborating. It has always been that the public is far ahead of the politicians. They are all terrified. It will happen, we just have to be patient and persistent.
Q: So maybe we can count on you being a judge for the DOPE Cup if we ever bring it here?
A: Hah, well as long as Segerblom Haze is one of the strains.
Q: We know you have the Segerblom Haze named after you, did you have anything to do with that process or is there any dreams of a strain that you would like to create or see?
A: Actually it was a very random thing. One of the local growers had a strain that they liked but the name from California was super slutty something-or-other and they thought that wasn’t appropriate for medical marijuana so they asked me if they could change the name, and I asked around and my kids said it was fine so I said, okay. I didn’t pick the strain but truthfully it actually is a pretty good strain. For people like me who are not into anything too wild, it’s a good modern way to try marijuana.
Q: On 420 you have gifted lawmakers with brownies that said ‘Happy 420’. Anybody who follows your social media and your career can see that you are quite the jokester. What was the response to that? Did everyone think it was funny?
A: Pretty much, it was a good natured thing. The more conservative ones kinda freaked out, ‘Oh if I get too close I’m gonna get a contact high.’ I went down to the store and bought some brownies and bought a little flag that said, ‘Happy 420’ on it. It served a purpose. We gotta keep things light and we passed along the bill so obviously it worked.
Q: You worked with Jimmy Carter in 1975. In another interview there is mention of you and the rest of Jimmy Carter’s staff smoking weed on the White House roof. How did that happen?
A: Well, truth be told I was wasn’t on the roof of the White House, but it was very common to use it back then, as it is now, but when Carter left and Reagan took over it became something that was almost legal to something comparable to heroin. For the next twenty years it became worse and worse and worse with the penalties and people going to prison so the fact that it has now become legal again and the 360 degrees is very cool for me.
Frankly it just happened so fast. One day we were going to jail and the next day we’re having parties right?
Q: So speaking of parties, I do have some questions related to what’s happening right now in Las Vegas and what’s going to be coming. The first thing I wanted to talk about is the new taxation revenue that is coming in, what is that earmarked for?
A: It goes primarily to education. It’s gonna be around 150 million dollars total around the state. I just saw that in Colorado they raised a billion dollars in taxes from marijuana in the last few years so we have a ways to go. But it is a huge revenue source and something if you like marijuana you can kind of say, ‘Hey, I’m making the state better too.’ Now if we can find a way to tax alcohol and make it contribute too.
Q: In a 2014 interview you said, ‘within the last year, people have come to me with innovative products, and in an effort to better understand the industry, I have tried some new methods of distribution. Not that I have done it regularly, but I will say that there are things out there that back in the ’60s you would have never believed possible.’ What would you say is your favorite new product or items that you have tried or seen lately?
A: In 2014 it was revolutionary. Today it is no big deal, but to me the vapes are the best. You’re smoking essentially but you don’t get the smoke and you don’t get the heat. [You] can control yourself, have a puff, wait a few minutes and have another one. For someone from my generation, it’s perfect. I know people are into a lot of other stuff but I’m just a simple guy. For me the stuff we were smoking in the 60s, the counterpart today is a vape. And of course you get the cartridges with different kinds, indica or sativa, hybrids. If I went to a dispensary, I am still overwhelmed at what is out there. The different products. It’s phenomenal and more all the time. Its developing. There are entrepreneurs out there, there’s great minds.
DOPE actually has a vape pen that looks like a pen that is probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
That’s the other great thing about Nevada is we bring in the states that already do it so we have the best from the whole world. Everybody has their own way of doing things but if you come to Nevada, you will find that we are at the top.
AUDIENCE QUESTIONS FROM FACEBOOK LIVE
Audience Q: Have you tried extracts and what are your views on concentrates?
A: I have not. Back in my day we tried hash but I have not tried shatter or any of those kind of things. They are a little exotic. (Laughs) At least for public consumption.
Audience Q: Can we talk about vaping and it’s safety and how it is discreet in consumption. Do you agree or disagree?
A: The reality is that you can do it a lot of different ways, but if you’re getting off work or going to work or in the middle of work, (chuckles) you could have a puff and nobody would ever know the difference. You could do it in a casino and nobody knows if it is a cigarette or not. It really is very discreet. Also, it’s a great way, from my perspective, to control so all of the sudden you are not gonna be overwhelmed like edibles where you take something and two hours later you’re on the floor.
Audience Q: Do you have a favorite dispensary in Vegas?
A: I will say they are like Tiffany’s. Can’t believe how great they are. They are all a little different. They all have different flavor and they also all have very different constituents which is funny for me to see. Some people out there like me with canes and everything, real medical patients. Some for tourists right off the street. There are some of them in Summerlin which is like, middle class. The fun part is that people are not afraid to come out of the woodwork and be seen publicly going into one of these places because it is legal which is wonderful. I never thought that in my lifetime that we’d be able to do that.
Audience Q: Vegas last week had a state of emergency that they ran out of weed. Is that true?
A: It actually worked out to our benefit. It became a national story that the governor declared an emergency that we ran out of pot (chuckles). We actually didn’t run out of pot. The demand was so great that there was a supply issue getting it from the grow to the dispensaries and how that would happen, but nobody ran out, and now we are back up and running and everybody is totally stocked. We did have an emergency regulation that was voted on and approved but the story was ‘Governor declares emergency.’ Everybody I know was hitting me up and emailing me, ‘What? You have an emergency?’
Audience Q: Will there be onsite consumption in Las Vegas and how soon?
A: I promise you there will be but I promise that it will be at least 6 months. When we do it we will do it better than anywhere else and that will be another area where we show the world how to regulate it and how to use it because it is so perfect for what we do. We are gonna have bars, restaurants, concerts, just every kind of venue you can imagine. The last place will be the casinos but I bet you in 5 years it will be in the casinos too.
Audience Q: Do you think Vegas will be the next Amsterdam?
A: I think it’s beyond Amsterdam. (Laughs) But no, I think that it is clearly going to be the place where the world thinks of when you think of pot. Just before I came over here I got a phone call from a reporter who asked, ‘Will they have marijuana in the new raiders stadium?’ In three years I guarantee we will have regulations where you can have an event for people over 21 and it will be in there, sixty thousand people.