Lyft and Uber Cashing in on Vegas Canna-Tourism

Published on July 27, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Crossroad, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Reports are emerging from Las Vegas that rideshare drivers are making a killing since Nevada began allowing adult-use cannabis sales on July 1.

Prior to the adult-use start date, state regulators predicted that 63% of recreational sales would come from tourists. According to a KTNV report, a man named Keith who drives with Uber and Lyft says the state regulators got that prediction right—he’s been driving back and forth from the Strip to local dispensaries since legalization took effect.

“Swear to god it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Keith told KTNV. “I’m making now more than I was before, and I’m more relaxed.”

Keith mentioned that he spends nearly half of his time on the clock driving from the Las Vegas Strip, to a dispensary, and then back to the strip, and so on. His cost-per-trip average has more than doubled, from  around $12 per trip to around $25, due to the longer distances between Strip hotels and retail dispensaries.

Longer rides aren’t Keith’s only source of increased income. Keith told KTNV that he receives kickbacks from cannabis dispensaries for bringing in new customers (up to $25); he’s seeing bigger tips from riders, too.

Uber issued a statement in response to the KTNV story:

“We have continued to see a steady growth in trips throughout Nevada. Marijuana impaired driving is 100% preventable. By providing people with safe ride options, we believe we are empowering people to make better, safer choices. With our technology, we want to help everyone have a safe ride home.”

Cannabis Tourism Buses Hit Roadblock

Ride sharing companies are enjoying the cannabis boom, but canna-tourism buses have yet to get in on the action. With public consumption of cannabis still barred in Nevada, a handful of companies in Las Vegas want to take passengers on a ride down the Strip in buses where you can privately consume cannabis. Similar transportation companies currently operate in Denver and Seattle.

The only problem? A little-known Nevada law prohibits anyone from consuming cannabis while inside a movie vehicle—and that includes all passengers. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum $600 fine.

It also is illegal to rent a private vehicle in Nevada just to consume cannabis.

“This idea can work anywhere, but the fact that this is Sin City will draw tourists to try something they might not have tried before,” Nicholas Hogan told the Review-Journal. Hogan is the co-owner of GreenRush Puff Bus, which recently applied for a state permit with the Nevada Transportation Authority.

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None of the casinos, hotels, or bars in Las Vegas will allow consumption of cannabis for years, if ever, Hogan added.

GreenRush Puff Bus is not the only company to send in an application, as the rise of these types of businesses have prompted Clark County officials last week to issue a warning that it is against the law to rent tour buses, and other vehicles, and consume cannabis in them.

“The county is joining with the Nevada Transportation Authority and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in enforcing these laws in unincorporated Clark County, including the Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding resort corridor,” county spokesman Erik Pappa said.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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