On July 1, Nevada joined the “cool cannabis kids” club when it became the fifth state to offer legalized adult-use cannabis—or, in less wonky terminology, recreational cannabis. (Mandatory cannabis columnist disclaimer: Kids, you can be cool without cannabis too! It’s rare, but still possible.)
Forty-four dispensaries were allowed to begin selling to recreational buyers as of July 1, with 39 of those located in Las Vegas. Sales have been strong, with the Nevada Dispensary Association estimating that between three to five million dollars’ worth of cannabis and cannabis products were sold during the first weekend. Taxes are projected to hit $30 million in the first year, although many believe that amount could be under-projected, as it was in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
Most everyone I know visits Las Vegas at some point during the calendar year—it sees 45 million tourists annually—whether it be to escape the endless gray winters here, attend a convention, or test out your guaranteed system at the blackjack table. But speaking as someone who rarely drinks or gambles (Mr. Excitement!), Vegas doesn’t have much to offer me aside from eating mushrooms and watching the dancing Fountains of Bellagio. If I can cop some jazz tobacco without the Man disrupting my vibe, I may be more inclined to make the trip.
Before you opt not to carry your stash down with you, get hip to what’s up in Sin City. Some things mirror our system in Oregon (e.g., public consumption), while some do not (get ready to pay top dollar—no, even topper than that).
Can I smoke in public?
That’s a negative. You can chug that fifth of vodka in your best Nic Cage Leaving Las Vegas impersonation as you make your way down the Strip, but don’t even think about lighting up, Hempo. A first offense can get you a $600 fine. (And no, I’m sure the liquor lobby had no role in getting that rule passed. Why do you ask?)
Where can I smoke?
Great question! You can’t, anywhere, ever. Now go fuck yourself, Kyle the Tourist. Well, you can smoke in a private residence that you own, or a rental if you have permission. But other places—such as parks, hotels, bars, and cafés—prohibit it. Casinos? Great news! You can smoke tobacco in many casinos, but not cannabis. (And no, I’m sure the tobacco lobby had no role in getting that rule passed. Why do you ask?)
How much can I buy?
Up to an ounce of flower and 3.5 grams of concentrate. Edibles are limited to 100 mg. And use what you buy, because you can’t fly home with it.
What’s this gonna run me?
That 20 percent tax you’ve been bitching about back home looks pretty good compared to the 33 percent tax you’ll be paying in Nevada. Need an eighth for your stay? That’ll be $80, please. An ounce of top shelf will run you $400 or higher.
Yeah, I know. Nevada’s taxes are a big part of this obscenity—growers have a 15 percent excise tax imposed upon them, and there is a 15 percent tax on wholesale cannabis sales. But those prices may be attributed to some price-gouging on the part of some growers, due to a recent court ruling. This is a fun story, so pay attention: Nevada cannabis regulatory officials decided that cannabis needed to be treated like alcohol, and decreed for the first year and a half of adult-use sales that licensed distributors of alcohol would be the only ones allowed to handle the transport of cannabis from grower to dispensary. Except there wasn’t enough interest from the booze jockeys, so the application process was opened up to other providers. Ruh-roh. The industry group for liquor distributors sued and, in May, a court ruled in their favor. But seeing as how no distributor has been licensed yet, there is currently no one who may legally transport cannabis.
So there are already big problems?
Yep. Dispensaries initially stocked up on product like it was the End of Days, as they had no idea when deliveries would happen again. So, in the past month, prices for a wholesale pound jumped from $1,600 to $2,600. And now dispensaries are indeed running out of weed, mere days after Nevada’s recreational cannabis market opened. Governor Brian Sandoval was even forced to declare a state of emergency, hoping to fast-track some new legislation to solve the distribution crisis. We’ll see how it shakes out—seeing as weed is a major new source of tax revenue, the pressure’s on to resolve the issue quickly.