For the thrill-seeking traveler, Las Vegas’s allures are many: Gambling, a Penn & Teller show, all-night dance clubs, a dinner whipped up by a Michelin-starred chef — and now, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1, an armful of recreational marijuana.
Eight months after voters in four states approved recreational marijuana legalization, Nevada will be the first of the four to record the first sale.
While officials in California haggle over details and lawmakers in Massachusetts and Maine redraw voter-approved legalization as they see fit, the first official day of legal cannabis sales to all adults 21 and over in Nevada will be Saturday, July 1, state authorities confirmed this week.
Dispensaries in Las Vegas — one of the most-visited places in the world and now the possible heir to the title of America’s marijuana tourism mecca — plan to start as soon as they’re legally able.
Like California, Nevada already has an established medical-marijuana industry, with dozens of dispensaries in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. Until Saturday, patronizing a dispensary will requires a recommendation from a physician as well as a state-issued ID card.
Early on during the debate over how to start selling cannabis to adults, Nevada officials set an aggressive deadline of July 1 for the first sale. Despite some open questions and a legal challenge, on Monday, the Nevada Tax Commission adopted “emergency regulations,” as the Las Vegas Sun reported.
As per the paper, 37 Vegas-area medical dispensaries will receive “dual-use permits” to start selling to anyone 21 or over. The emergency regulations, which set strict rules for packaging and advertising, are good for 120 days — and it’s not clear if dispensaries’ supply will last that long.
During that time, dispensaries will be able to sell only what they have currently in stock, as a recent court ruling has held that only liquor distributors will be able to sell marijuana for the first 18 months of recreational sales.
That decision will be appealed, but in the meantime, the will of the voters will be fulfilled and sales will begin. The lone dispensary on the Las Vegas Strip, Essence, is already inviting “celebrities, dignitaries, VIPs, and tourists” to start patronizing their wares beginning at a minute past midnight on Saturday morning.
The speed with which Nevada ushered in the age of recreational cannabis sales is thus far unmatched. The first sales in Colorado, which with Washington legalized adult-use marijuana in November 2012, took place on January 1, 2014.
In California, which sold just shy of $1 billion worth of medical cannabis in 2016, according to state tax officials, authorities are on pace to allow adult-use sales by early 2018.
In Maine and Massachusetts, where lawmakers on Monday met behind closed doors to rewrite the voter-approved law, the first sales won’t happen until summer 2018 at the earliest.
As Nevada is demonstrating, figuring out how to sell recreational marijuana where you already sell medical doesn’t have to be a laborious, drawn-out process.
TELL US, are you considering a visit to Vegas to check out their recreational cannabis market?