Jun 30 2017 . 12 min read
Elevating the Conversation with Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom
Elevating the Conversation with Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom
A third generation Nevadan, State Senator Tick Segerblom was born and raised in Boulder City, Nevada. An employment attorney, Segerblom was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2006 and then to the Nevada State Senate in 2012, where he currently serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. A longtime marijuana advocate, Senator Segerblom has been instrumental in the legislative progress cannabis has made in the Silver State. Segerblom comes from a long line of government servants. His mother, Gene Segerblom (née Wines), served in the Nevada Assembly from 1992 through 2000 and was a member of the Boulder City Council. His grandmother, Hazel Wines (née Bell), served in the Nevada Assembly from 1934 - 1936 representing Humboldt County. Segerblom's great-grandfather was William "Johnny" Bell representing Humboldt County from 1906 to 1914 in the Nevada Senate.
I will feel better when today is over, once the court hearing in Carson City is over. Assuming it goes well and the judge doesn’t stop it, it will be one of the most exciting days of my life. It’s hard to believe that it’s finally going to happen. I think it opens a whole new era for Nevada. When you look at how Las Vegas has embraced the Electric Daisy Carnival, it just seems to me we are really looking at millennials as our future and I think marijuana is part of the millennial culture.
I think it’s going to be on my tombstone.
I knew that it was doable but it wasn’t one of my goals. It didn’t become a real fixture until the 2012 election when Washington state and Colorado voted for recreational marijuana, at that point it just seemed like the time for Nevada was ripe. Everybody still said we would never be able to do it, but truthfully there was no opposition so we moved forward and everyone agreed we should do it.
I will be involved but I do think it’s time for me to move on to other things. The technical changes will probably be suggested by the governor. Other than having marijuana lounges or some type of restricted public use I think I have done about as much as I can do. I do think that that’s going to be the next issue: how do we embed marijuana into our tourism culture? It just seems so perfect for Nevada to me that I am not going to stop until we get it accomplished.
Not really, I think it’s something we are going to have to keep our eye on it. If there are not enough medical marijuana patients to keep it alive than we will have to change the tax structure so there’s more incentives for it because it definitely has medicinal qualities and we want to make sure people can afford it. But I think the key is to go forward and get health insurance to cover it, get workers comp to cover it – that will be the way to really make it affordable for people who really need it.
I am working on a legal opinion that says we don’t need state law to allow for the pot lounges. That’s definitely the number one priority because we must have a place where people can go and consume it after they purchase it. We accomplished most of the things we wanted to accomplish. We can do more as far as research. Even though the bill that had opiates in it didn’t pass, it would certainly fit under one of the other definitions so I don’t think it’s going to be a major issue. Obviously opioid addiction is a central point of it. It’s not a cure-all for addiction but it’s pretty clear it helps people who do have addictions and it’s obviously a much friendlier drug.
If we can get local governments to realize they have the authority, without any kind of state authorization, then each local jurisdiction is on their own. I have been told that the Clark County Commission has an opinion that they can do it. I am working on a state opinion that says they can do it. At that point, it will just be every city council and county commission on their own with what they want to do. In Carson City the police were in favor of it, the hotels were in favor of it, it was pretty well supported. People don’t realize without that, how are we going to sell it and then tell people you can’t use it? Or they are going to go right back to the hotels or walk down the Strip and that’s not something we want. And without having a place where you use it openly, it really encourages edibles, which if people know what they are doing it’s good but I don’t want people to come here and the first thing they ever do is try edibles. Those can be pretty scary if it’s the first time you have ever used some.
I am very proud to have carried on the family tradition. As far as we know, in checking around the country, we haven’t found any other family with four generations serving in a legislature. There may be somebody but we aren’t aware of that. But it’s a very small position not a fulltime job or anything but it’s still kind of fun to see yourself as part of a family tradition and part of Nevada.
That’s why I love the marijuana thing because to me if you look back at the history of Nevada we have always been the outlaws, we have always done things other states didn’t want to do. During the Depression we had divorce, we had gambling. We have had all the vices, that’s what we are famous for and it seems like marijuana is probably the last vice we can get on top of and kind of set ourselves away from other places.
I think we did. We looked at Colorado and Arizona when we were writing the law, we looked for the best things out there, and said let’s go ahead and start with the best since we are starting from scratch. Testing seemed like the way to go. It really does set us apart, Oregon just found out they aren’t testing for pesticides and they have got a real problem there. Colorado is finally getting around to full scale testing and they have got issues. We really do have the best quality control of any place.
I am actually looking at running for the Clark County Commission in 2018.
The one thing that is my other big issue right now is destroying Glen Canyon Dam. I had a bill in the last two sessions, it’s just a resolution, but it calls on the Nevada Legislature to ask for a study about Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell and whether it should be destroyed. Glen Canyon is the dam that meets Lake Powell above the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. It works in conjunction with Hoover Dam at Lake Mead, we have these two big artificial bodies of water but the truth is there is not enough water for both lakes so from my perspective we need to get rid of the one which is the Glen Canyon Dam. We got the bill through the Assembly but it died in the Senate, it’s a really fun issue. It’s one of those things where we are kind of looking down the road but that’s one of the issues I have been working on very hard.
In 2013, I had a goal of doing medical marijuana but really didn’t know how it was going to shape out. This time going into the session we knew exactly what we wanted to do which was to have an early start, merge the two systems, get the tax structure in place, and even though we had a lot of ups and downs, that’s exactly what we accomplished which is huge because Colorado has a medical system and a recreational system with two separate inventories, two separate controls, it’s a mess. The fact that we combined the two and you can just walk into the dispensary and depending on which card you show, that’s what your tax rate is and it’s all one product is really fantastic. It’s really going to make the industry perfect as far it’s good for them and it’s going to diversify the products that are available. It just makes life so much simpler, they can really focus on producing and selling cannabis which will generate a lot of taxes, hopefully.
I would have so say it was clearly the 2013 medical marijuana program, it’s the one that has really changed Nevada and I have to say if I hadn’t been involved, it wouldn’t have happened, at least, at that time. It was going to eventually happen but it was one of those things where I was at the right place at the right time. It really worked out beyond anyone’s dreams.