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Las Vegas Live: Adult-Use Cannabis Debuts in Nevada

July 1, 2017
Patrons wait in line shortly before the doors open at midnight at Essence Cannabis Dispensary on the Las Vegas Strip on Friday, June 30, 2017. Cannabis sales to adults 21 and over in Nevada began at midnight July 1. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)
It’s July 1, 2017, and adult-use cannabis sales are legal in Nevada. The first retail sales to folks 21 and over kicked off across the state shortly after midnight on Saturday morning. Leafly has correspondents in Las Vegas covering the festivities, and we’ll be posting updates throughout the first day on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s Legal?

Glad you asked. The team at Leafly has put together a handy infographic to answer exactly that question.

Leafly Nevada legal cannabis guidelines

Click to enlarge. (Nick Ouellette/Leafly)

Read more over on our guide to what to expect in Nevada’s adult-use market.

Where to Buy?

In celebration of adult-use cannabis legalization in Nevada, and heading into July 4th holiday, many Las Vegas-area dispensaries are offering extended hours. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening at a few hotspots:

  • Reef Dispensaries’ location off the Strip is open 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. The shop has daytime festivities Saturday featuring a DJ, food trucks and, several vendors offering goods.
  • Essence Dispensary, at the north end of the Vegas drag, is keeping normal hours after its midnight launch. The shop opens at 10 a.m. and closes at midnight.
  • Jardin Premium Cannabis Dispensary, which is about five miles east of the Strip, is open 7 a.m. to midnight tonight, with an on-site DJ, food trucks, and a fireworks show. They go back to normal hours Sunday, and open 10 a.m. to midnight.
Related

Legal Cannabis in Nevada: What to Know

  • Oasis Medical Cannabis, which might be in need of a name change soon—they sell to all adult customers!—is open 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day except Sunday, when they open at 8 a.m. and close at midnight.
  • Acres Cannabis has a “block party” going on today from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The dispensary will stay open to 3 a.m. Normal hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday.
  • The Apothecary Shoppe, over by the Palms casino and resort, is open 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. A staffer said the shop will have some July 4th specials hasn’t settled on specifics just yet.

Be safe and enjoy yourselves out there, Las Vegas. Congratulations!

The Scene On and Off the Strip

LAS VEGAS — The crowds at dispensaries around Las Vegas were smaller Saturday morning, but tourists and locals alike were still buzzing with excitement over Nevada’s launch of legal, adult-use cannabis.

“I found out about it five days before we came out here, and it’s added 50% more value to the trip,” Michael Meeks, who was in town from New Jersey, told Leafly.

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Leafly’s Visual Quality Guide to Selecting Cannabis

Meeks bought concentrates and edibles from Apothecary Shoppe, a dispensary across the street from the Palms hotel and casino, just off the main Vegas drag. He said he was concerned there wouldn’t be a place to smoke right now, with cannabis consumption banned in hotels and public spaces, but he was hopeful that would change in the future.

“I’m confident that it will be normalized,” Meeks said. “I’ve been to Amsterdam and seen what it’s like there. I think it will be similar in Las Vegas, where they’ll say not to smoke it but won’t enforce that.”

“I’m a medical patient and it’s an inconvenience right now, but the lines will eventually die down.”
Jami Nugent, Las Vegas resident

Some locals thought the casino ban on marijuana use could be a choke point for sales to tourists. Justin, a Lyft driver who declined to give his last name, said that he hoped there was a resolution to the problem soon.

“They need to figure that out,” he said. “I feel like casinos have a chance to big on that. They might be playing to the Republican side of things—lets be real—but money talks.”

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Among Las Vegas residents, especially medical marijuana patients, the delay caused by long lines turned some away from storefronts today. However, most seemed to view the setback as a minor inconvenience and were happy that adult-use cannabis was legal.

Legal sales have brought long lines like this one at The Reef Dispensary in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Legal sales have brought long lines like this one at The Reef Dispensary in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

“Overall it’s a good thing,” said Las Vegas resident Jami Nugent. “I’m a medical patient and it’s an inconvenience right now, but the lines will eventually die down.”

For dispensaries, the crush of customers was creating some headaches as they handled both increased sales volume and a new clientele not as well versed in what options were available to them.

“We’ve been able to handle the rush, but there are more non-locals and nonmedical customers who don’t know what they want,” said Armen Yemenidjian, the owner of Essence Cannabis Dispensary, who operates the only marijuana storefront on the Strip. “Because people are new to this, they’re asking a lot of questions, so transactions are taking a lot longer. We’re still working out a process.”

While daytime crowds were a bit smaller on Saturday, long lines of customers kept budtenders scrambling. Here, shortly after midnight, staff members at The Reef Dispensary attend to patrons shortly after the beginning of legal, adult-use sales. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

While daytime crowds were a bit smaller on Saturday, long lines of customers kept budtenders scrambling. Here, shortly after midnight, staff members at The Reef Dispensary attend to patrons shortly after the beginning of legal, adult-use sales.
(Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Yemenidjian said he’s increased staffing at storefronts and set up more point-of-sale systems to accommodate the new clientele. The store on the Strip, for example, has scaled up from five points of sale to 21. He said he has a total of around 180 employees now that work or provide operational support to his cultivation site and two dispensaries.

While some have voiced concerns about supply—there’s an who can distribute cannabis—Yemenidjian said he didn’t anticipate it being an issue.

“We won’t run out weed,” he said. “Right now we’re just”—he paused—“tired.”

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Adult-Use Sales Launch Friday Night in Nevada

LAS VEGAS — There’s a new form of legal entertainment in a city already known for its wide selection of attractions.

“No seeds, no stems, no sticks. This is pure bud.”
Sen. Tick Segerblom

Adult-use cannabis was available for purchase in Las Vegas at one minute past midnight July 1, and crowds of locals and tourist gathered outside dispensaries in the city to be some of the first to buy a pre-rolled joint or an ounce of Blue Dream. At A Reef Dispensaries location a short way off the Strip, the atmosphere was festive as Nevada state Sen. Tick Segerblom was first in line to buy recreational product.

Segerblom joked after the sale was final that this wasn’t the same marijuana he grew up with.

“When I was doing this back in the 60s, it didn’t look like this,” he said. “No seeds, no stems, no sticks. This is pure bud.”

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, Nevada's legalization champion, inspects his purchase a few minutes past midnight. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

State Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), Nevada’s legalization champion, inspects his purchase a few minutes past midnight. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Outside Reef, a line stretched around the block as a DJ played and cannabis enthusiasts cheered a fireworks display. The crowd seemed mostly made up of locals, but there were out-of-towners here as well.

Beth Ann Krug was in Las Vegas for a family reunion when she heard a news report about sales starting up. The Florida resident was thrilled to be in the crowd and said she’s been a longtime medical cannabis patient who uses it to help with her Parkinson’s symptoms. “I have Parkinson’s and it helps keep the tremors at bay,” she said.

Sniff jars containing cannabis samples allow customers to smell the terpenes at Essence cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Sniff jars containing cannabis samples allow customers to smell the terpenes at Essence cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Not everyone was enthused about the scene early Saturday morning, however. Chris, who declined to give his last name, arrived late at Reef on a skull-emblazoned Harley Davidson and said the crowds and commercialization turned him off.

“I use (marijuana) as medicine and this is ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t care if people want to smoke, but this shouldn’t happpen.” Chris said he expected things to die down a bit once the novelty of adult-use sales faded.

Customer Anthony Ramsey, left, of Las Vegas, receives guidance from staff member Aly Bessey at Oasis Medical Cannabis early Saturday morning. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Customer Anthony Ramsey, left, of Las Vegas, receives guidance from staff member Aly Bessey at Oasis Medical Cannabis early Saturday morning. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Most locals were excited, however, both about the adult access to cannabis and the prospect that the industry would become another keystone in the Las Vegas tourism industry.

“For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not, because I would have smoked either way, but now I can just go into a shop,” said Zach Prekop, a Las Vegas resident. “And now that it’s legal, it’s more accepted and people can try it out without feeling like they’re doing something wrong. I think it’s going to be another tourist attraction.”

Retailers had plenty of product on hand, including these infused edibles at Essence Cannabis in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Retailers had plenty of product on hand, including these infused edibles at Essence in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Taxi drivers, always an integral source for a reporter, weren’t sure many tourists yet knew about the state’s launch of the adult-use market.

“Not many people are aware of it yet,” said a cabby Friday, who asked that his name not be published. “We have a ton of people coming in for the holiday weekend, and no one seemed to know they could buy it.”

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Segerblom said cannabis was becoming just another feature of Las Vegas.

“It’s a legally recognized form of entertainment, and we’re the entertainment capital of the world,” he said. “People come here, get a good hotel room, go out to a good restaurant, go to a good concert, and come here to buy the best marijuana in the world.”

Sen. Tick Segerblom Gets in on the Action

In Las Vegas, just before the clock struck 12, state Sen. Tick Segerblom, Nevada’s legalization champion, posted this picture from the ground:

And here we are just after midnight, at Reef:

Here’s a look at what’s expected from legal cannabis in Nevada:

Where Can I Consume?

Only in a private home, including yards and porches. While it may be legal to stroll down parts of the Las Vegas Strip with your favorite adult beverage, the same doesn’t apply to cannabis. It’s prohibited in casinos, bars, restaurants, parks, concerts and on U.S. property, from national forests to federally subsidized housing.

While anyone who is 21 with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of cannabis or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates, using it in public can lead to a $600 ticket for a first offense.

Dawn Weir, center left, interviews customer Candace Foshee, center right, for a cannabis-themed radio show while customers wait in line behind them at The Reef Dispensary. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Dawn Weir, center left, interviews customer Candace Foshee, center right, for a cannabis-themed radio show while customers wait in line behind them at The Reef Dispensary. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

What’s the Big Deal?

Industry experts predict Nevada’s market will be the nation’s biggest, at least until California plans to begin recreational sales in January.

Nevada sales should eventually exceed those in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state because of the more than 42 million tourists who annually visit Las Vegas. Regulators anticipate 63 percent of customers will be tourists.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like what Nevada is going to look like just because of the sheer volume of tourism in the state,” said Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of the Colorado-based Wana Brands, which makes edible products.

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However, it’s not clear how many people know cannabis is about to be legal. The law bans marijuana advertising on radio, TV or any other medium where 30 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be younger than 21.

Customer Marilyn Uldricks laughs while speaking to the news media after making a purchase shortly after legal sales began early Saturday morning. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Customer Marilyn Uldricks laughs while speaking to the news media after making a purchase shortly after legal sales began early Saturday morning. (Ronda Churchill for Leafly)

Why Do Hotel-Casinos Ban Cannabis?

State gambling regulators have directed casinos to abide by federal law, which outlaws the drug. That means tourists will have a hard time finding a place to use it legally despite being the biggest expected piece of the market.

It’s one reason Whiteman and others think edibles will be most popular with visitors, who can eat the goodies almost anywhere without attracting attention, including casino floors where cigarettes are allowed but cannabis consumption is not.

Could That Change?

Legislation to establish marijuana clubs and other places to smoke cannabis failed this spring but will be revisited by lawmakers in 2019. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a leader of the legalization push, anticipates worldwide advertising urging tourists to “come to Nevada and smoke pot — so we must provide a place to do so.”

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Where Can I Smoke Legally in a Legal State?

One Denver-based entrepreneur already has set up cannabis-friendly condos just off the Las Vegas Strip that allow cannabis smoking but not cigarettes. There’s also a “Cannabus” tour that offers riders a peek inside dispensaries, a grow facility and a swag bag filled with rolling papers and other gifts.

Buyers Beware?

The drug’s potency is higher than the marijuana sold on the streets a couple of decades ago. Edibles are a concern because the effects can sneak up on newbies, who may take too much without realizing they are slowly getting high.

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8 ways to counteract a too-intense cannabis high

All packaged edibles, from gummies to brownies, must carry labels warning that the intoxicating effects may be delayed for two hours or more and that users should initially eat a small amount.

How Are Police Preparing?

Some departments have been giving officers additional training on determining who might be impaired.

“It changes the dynamics of what we have to enforce and what we don’t in terms of marijuana,” Deputy Reno Police Chief Tom Robinson said. Previously, “police officers have been told to aggressively enforce marijuana laws. Now, we’ve got to change our stance, which isn’t a big deal, it’s just a mindset shift for our personnel.”

Related

After Legalization, Nevada Authorities Take Uneven Approach to Cannabis Enforcement

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Henry Meier

Henry Meier is a reporter in Los Angeles. He loathes Dick Vitale and people who put two spaces after a period.

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  • Gary Craig

    Color me green, green for ENVY!

  • Juan Garcia

    literally excited for this!!

  • Gary Craig

    Nevada did this really quick! Hey Maryland! Call Nevada and ask for pointers on how a state gets its mmj up and running. After 3-1/2 years of this constant foot dragging and stonewalling, stonewalling and foot dragging, delay, delay, delay, then delay some more it has become painfully obvious this states Republican anti cannabis governor does not want to implement this program. The western states, except for the regressive Red states, are the best parts of this nation to live in. Certain parts of the northeast are coming around, states with voter initiatives. The rest of us have to depend on state legislatures, some of which are prohibition friendly.

  • CLK1

    One more down, Forty something to go…!

  • John Carroll

    Best marijuana in the world? hmmm

    • 360dunk

      It’s at least AMONGST the best in the world because there’s more to it than simply how high you get. There’s the testing and banning of molds and pesticides, the great variety of inventory, and competitive pricing to go along with the typical potency of 18-25% THC in the flower you buy. So yes, given all the factors, the weed in Las Vegas ranks right up there.

      • Lyman Hall

        You THINK it’s pesticide free. Rules get broken.

        • 360dunk

          It actually IS pesticide-free, as anyone who lives in Nevada and has been paying attention to the industry, knows. They test it, label it, and regulate it from seed to sale. Stop guessing when you have no clue. Sheesh.

  • DoomedNY

    Vegas should open a ridiculous cannabis themed amusement park. It could bring in tons of tourists.

  • SleepingGiant

    Long long long lines to get in. People waiting 4 Hours for nothing after arriving early. Euphoria wellness sucks! 3 employees for 3000 customers. Back to the black market!

    • JeffWalenta

      Prices will be high for a bit and there are some road bumps still to come but eventually you will see quality increase and prices fall. This has played out in every legal state so far.

      • SleepingGiant

        It’s not about the prices, it’s about actually buying and celebrating on July 1st. Having 3 employees for 3000 customers is very amateurish if you want to return costomers.

        • JeffWalenta

          I agree but there is more then one place to go, things will calm down soon enough it ya won’t run into issues like that again most likely.

        • Beach Potato

          You need an attitude adjustment. try a vape of sativa and start to relax and quit bitching.

    • Beach Potato

      Photos show over 12 stations with cashiers at each.

    • 360dunk

      I went past three different off-Strip dispensaries and none of them had a wait over 30 minutes. Plus it’s the first day, so what do you expect? Only a half-wit fool would go back to the black market. Sure, support foreign drug cartels, dummy.

      • Gary Craig

        It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done any cannabis. The only way to get any in this state is via “the black market,” which does me squat since I have no connections to get any. Oh sure this is a medical state, has been for almost four years. That’s the good news. The bad news is no one knows when, and if, it will ever be up and running. It does not help we elected an anti cannabis, pro alcohol Republican as governor. Maryland choose the absolute worst time to elect a Republican, who is likely to be re-elected. What we need is a voter referendum on the ballot in 2018. 61% of the citizens want full legalization.

        • 360dunk

          Keep pushing for it, pressure politicians, and it will eventually get done. 10 years from now, it will be legal everywhere, hopefully.

          • Gary Craig

            Well I sure hope so. I’ve been on some potent meds for my spinal, neck & lower back, issues since the late 90’s. Also take high Bp meds, which cannabis might be able to also help with. Like I said people in this state have been, still are, suffering while politicians continue to play games. Now I hear AAA is playing a part in trying to keep cannabis illegal. What next, the NRA!?! By the way I, myself, am glad you good folks out west have freedom, real, true freedom. Not jealous, just a bit envious.

  • Beach Potato

    Instead of these states re=inventing the MJ wheel, I suggest to study the Amsterdam ‘means and methods’ that are very successful over ten years of regulating Marijuana and very smoothly implemented. America is changing very fast and most will be left in the dust……Sessions should be run back to Alabama. How much of an embarrassment can he be for the outdated reefer madness thinking by the little fellow?

  • Sonny Cole

    canada and mexico are our best friends now.the u.s will have to wake up and try and keep up with the rest of the world.it won’t be long before we will have to buy cannabis(med.)from other country’s to keep up with the demand

  • Tad Bootle

    Man, libs are sure proud of drug addicts! Not defending alcohol but with weed, you smoke it and are stoned, with alcohol you can have a drink and not be drunk.

    • 360dunk

      Except smoking weed does not make one a ‘drug addict’. Moron. Nor does it mean you’re a liberal. Are you THAT stupid?

    • Tarp Skidoo

      Then why drink at all?

    • CLK1

      Take your RepukiKKKunt crap and put it elsewhere. Cannabis is less addictive than alcohol and easier to control, you drunks are what is wrong with this world, stupid and can’t control yourselves…

  • Jordan Cook

    that’s cool. I’d probably gamble less on THC though–it makes me anxious!

  • calvet11

    So what cost $35 2 days ago, now cost $45 for an 1/8. The new budtenders don’t know crap. Wait a minute $5 off because I have PTSD and I’m a Vietnam Vet, disabled senior citizen. Soooo……thanks for the price break. It maybe, could be, because the Grove in Pahrump, Nevada is the only dispensary without going to Vegas 60+ miles away.

  • calvet11

    As a long time medical cannabis patient the only thing I got in Nevada, 1 July was screwed. The Great State of Nevada heaped a huge tax on both medical and recreational cannabis. Medical patients get a very small tax break. So what was $35 and 8th is now $45 and up, longer lines, new bud tenders only half trained (98% “Millennials”, God help us). And get a medical card in Nevada: bring lots of money, get ready to fill out a ton of paperwork, spend a lot of time, or spend even more money a get a card from a paper mill. As you may have guessed cannabis laws, were made for the high roller from out of Nevada. Coming here to spend money like a sailor on leave, get drunk, gamble, get laid, go wild, and get high not necessarily in that order. Yes I’m a senior citizen (68), disabled now after working hard for most of those 68 years, USAF Veteran 1968-1976, son, husband, father and grandfather. Grumpy yes, just don’t like being taken to the cleaners. Thanks anyway Tick.

    • Excuse me

      Help me out here. I thought it was 10% tax. That $35 1/8th should be $38.50 with the tax. Is there more tax beyond that?

      • calvet11

        Please Sir, go to your nearest dispensary and check price’s from the 30th of June and the price 1 July. Another tax on the disabled, thanks Nevada.

      • lisa_reeder

        It is 8.25% tax Plus another 2% tax as well! It sucks! That is Greedy Nevada! Prophets of people that really use it for Medicine!

        • Excuse me

          So 10.25%. Does it make you feel any better to know Washington State is 37%? The growers and retailers here are scraping by with the high taxes here–they have had to give profits up to keep sales going. The State is doing well. It is expected to take in $730 MILLION, (and the liquor & cannabis control board keeps $19 million of that to grow its agency.)

          Per RCW 69.50.535 and WAC 314-55-089, all retail licensees are required to remit to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) an excise tax of 37 percent on all taxable sales of marijuana, marijuana concentrates, useable marijuana, and marijuana-infused products.

          • Hu dad

            Lisa are you one of those growers or retailers? If your not, you definitely rub elbows with, or have friend’s and family’s that do! Your drum beat is pretty clear! If you were forced to hold off a year on that new car?….house?…I’m sorry that happened, HELL NO I’M NOT!! You talk about the lack of profits for the growers and retailers, too much for the state but to hell with us! You’ll live another year till you get whatever it is but many of my friends and family who only want a small break, won’t be! They’ll have passed on! They need to differentiate between those that have a medical need and those who are, girls who just want to have fun…and make a nicer profit!

      • Hu dad

        I think you may have had a buzz when you wrote your question? #1 I believe Calvet11 was frustrated as he should be…patients come first! Trust me just check it out yourself….he’s absolutely right…98% “Millennials” – God Help Us. For you, it all about “lets party…Wooooooo!” but for Calvet11 and myself, who are disabled, Calvet11 is 68 yrs old, disabled USAF veteran during the peak of he Vietnam War and use it as a medicine! We do our best, but life isn’t a party for us! Our prescription drug plans don’t cover our medications like they will for hydro, oxi or morphine! We don’t want to have to take those medications, so we pay but we’re mostly on Social Security due to an accident or illness! We just want a break between, what those who , like yourself, pay to “PARTY ON” and those of us with Cancer, Spinal Cord Injuries or MS pay in taxes to survive the day!! So while you love your new freedom and don’t mind, taxes, fees and long lines to get it! While the state and local governments get richer and richer, while the people this whole movement, US wide, was originally set out to help, patients with medical issues, are
        getting FUCKED!!! Is that helpful???????????????????????????????????

        • Bob

          I understand your frustration but welcome to having the government look after you from cradle to grave. They typically don’t know how to run a vending machine let alone anything economic. At least you are receiving Social Insecurity. Enjoy that while it lasts over the next year or two. No such luck for the Millennials who will probably need a University degree to be a budtender which won’t allow them to pay their student loans off over the next two decades. Ain’t it a great time to be alive. Party on Hu dad, the ship be a sinkin’ or just be grumpy. You might consider growing the 12 plants in your house and not needing to rely on those benevolent money addicted governments to help you. Blessings

  • 143jeanne

    Guess you best rent a house when you go. Tourists are going to be busted like crazy.

  • Excuse me

    I was just in Vegas on an overnight stopover, before July 1st–we stayed at an inexpensive motel close to the airport. The smell of weed was everywhere. Perhaps people need to stay at non-gaming locations that allow smoking.