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Las Vegas Rolls Out the Green Carpet for Cannabis Tourists

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and now that recreational cannabis is legal in Nevada, what happens there will involve plenty of herb.
Photo Anthony Quintano

Culture

Las Vegas Rolls Out the Green Carpet for Cannabis Tourists

Las Vegas is rolling the dice on weed tourism; the bet? More tourists rolling up Sin City green means more green rolling in for Sin City — let the good times roll.

Welcome to Las Vegas! We hope you enjoyed your flight. To your left, past the line of showgirls — here just to welcome you — you’ll see the casinos, more showgirls, the theater showing Penn & Teller, the restaurants — oh, the legal recreational cannabis? Don’t make a big deal about it, just follow the long line to your right.

Nevada was one of four states to legalize cannabis for all adults 21 and over during the 2016 General Election. Now, judging by how quickly authorities in the state capital and in Las Vegas are moving, Nevada will be the first of those four states — California, Maine, and Massachusetts are the other three — to record its first legal commercial sale of cannabis.

Shops in California won’t open until Jan. 1, 2018 (at the earliest), but retail marijuana shops on the Las Vegas Strip may be open as soon as July 1 of this year, according to reporting by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

From the Review-Journal:

“The Nevada Department of Taxation plans to issue temporary licenses that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell the recreational product by July 1, and a bill in the Nevada Legislature aims to let those sales happen even sooner.”

Nevada is already experienced with catering to the needs of cannabis-seeking visitors, though in limited volume. Nevada recognizes out-of-state medical marijuana recommendations, but only holders of state-issued cannabis ID cards are allowed to enter Nevada marijuana dispensaries, so marijuana-focused tourism in Las Vegas is still limited.

That will change soon. Since 43 million people a year visit Las Vegas, there’s bound to be a significant portion of tourists behaving like a Generation X-er on spring break in Amsterdam, bounding directly off the plane in search of the first opportunity to score.

And since Las Vegas is nice and welcoming to tourists, an official marijuana advisory panel says there should be clear instruction on where to go, with explanatory materials available at the airport.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

“We want to make sure marijuana is controlled, regulated and put forward in the best possible way,” Las Vegas attorney and panelist Brian Padgett said. “It’s still controversial and we want to make sure it’s portrayed in the best possible light.”

It will be professional, business-like and somewhat discreet — don’t expect any neon bud leaf signs or cannabis dispensary-advertising sign twirlers — but the information will still be there, clear as a desert day.

This would be a stark departure from (and significant improvement over) places like Denver, where the airport is officially a no-marijuana zone: if cannabis is found by authorities at the airport, it is confiscated and the nearest marijuana dispensaries are a long cab ride away.

The marijuana welcome wagon will still need approval from local authorities before tourists receive their cannabis how-to. Until then, they will have to content themselves with Vegas’s current offerings, such as the subtle directions to the gun range.

TELL US, will you be visiting Las Vegas for the cannabis?

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