Just weeks into legal sales, cannabis retail shops in Nevada are already facing inventory shortages. On opening weekend alone, some Las Vegas dispensaries saw lines with up to a three hour wait time
With more than 40 million tourists slated to visit Las Vegas in the next year, that means excitement and big business for cannabis retail stores, but can they handle the influx?
Even if just 5% of those tourists want to visit a dispensary, the lines will be out the door and around the block. – Krista Whitley, Las Vegas cannabis activist and entrepreneur.
While history shows demand will likely subside as the novelty wears off, most canna-tourists will ask questions. They want to be informed, but they also don’t want to wait in long lines.
Enter the Vegas Weekend Box a carefully curated selection of the top 10 cannabis products in Nevada.
The beautifully designed box is aesthetically Instagram-worthy offering up an intro or reintroduction to cannabis culture to ensure visitors avoid the pitfalls of many cannabis beginners: Overindulgence.
The Vegas Weekend Box, which sold 10,000 boxes in presale, is just the latest in a series of successful cannabis ventures launched by Whitley.
In fact, her digital media agency, Social Media Unicorn, has quickly become a powerhouse, marketing agency behind some of the biggest names in cannabis including Caviar Gold and Nevada’s own Tahoe Hydroponics.
The revenue from the retail marijuana industry in Las Vegas will provide funding benefiting the public education system. In the first four days of adult use sales, the Nevada cannabis market earned $500,000 in tax revenue the state’s Dispensary Association reported. Those numbers put the state on track to pull in sales of $30 million by the next six months.
Nevada is trailing the nation in education, and as a mother of two girls who are in school, this is a cause I care deeply about. – Whitley
In fact, a recent report found Las Vegas schools ranked 50th in the nation.
Our children deserve better and cannabis consumers deserve to enjoy the normalization of consumption that all of us advocates have lobbied in favor of.
The Vegas Weekend Box, which launches at select dispensaries July 14, will be updated each month to include the latest premium cannabis products.
From the one and only Vic Dibitetto…Follow Vic on Twitter @VicDibitetto
Wondering what you’ll be able to buy and where you can use it?
Here are answers to important questions surrounding the start of the state’s legal marijuana market.
Q: It’s been legal to possess marijuana since Jan. 1. But when can I buy marijuana without a medical card?
A: Recreational sales officially kick off Saturday morning at midnight for a three-hour sales blitz across the valley. (Dispensaries must be closed daily from 3 to 6 a.m.)
Q: Where can I buy it?
A: Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries that have state and local approval can start selling their products as recreational starting Saturday. Thirty-seven dispensaries in Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County have received their local permits, and the state is expected to give its final approval to businesses on Friday.
Several dispensaries, including most in downtown Las Vegas and near the Strip, plan to be open right as legal sales begin at midnight.
But if you live in Henderson, you’ll have to take a drive. In February, the city enacted a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana licenses, meaning the five medical dispensaries within Henderson’s city limits will have to wait a while longer before joining the market.
Q: Who can buy it?
A: Only adults 21 and older and medical marijuana cardholders can purchase marijuana. Like buying liquor, you’ll need to show your ID first.
Q: What’s the difference between medical and recreational marijuana?
A: There is no difference between medical and recreational marijuana in Nevada. Products will be sold as both. The only difference will be the price at the sales counter.
Recreational marijuana is subject to a 10 percent special sales tax, with those revenues rebuilding the state’s rainy day fund.
Q: How many taxes will I pay on recreational marijuana?
A: In Clark County, about 32 percent of what you pay will be taxes. You won’t see all of those taxes on your final receipt because some, such as the 15 percent excise tax on cultivation, are baked into the retail price.
Q: How much can I buy?
A: You can carry up to an ounce of marijuana and ⅛ ounce of concentrate, and that’s the same amount you’ll legally be able to buy. This applies to both tourists and local residents.
Q: What about edible marijuana products, such as brownies and gummies?
A: Those will be on sale as well, and they are expected to be extremely popular with tourists because they offer a more discrete way of consuming marijuana.
Just don’t expect to buy any marijuana lollipops or gummies shaped like your favorite cartoon character. Nevada law bans companies from making edibles that look like gummy bears, cartoon characters or anything that might look appealing to children.
Edibles tend to produce a longer and stronger high than smoked marijuana, and new packaging laws in Nevada reflect that potency.
Every edible will have a label warning consumers that it could take up to two hours to feel the high.
Q: Can I use my credit or debit card to buy marijuana?
A: Nope, cash only. Virtually no banks will take on accounts from marijuana companies, which means the industry is entirely cash-based. Most dispensaries have an ATM on-site.
Q: I bought my marijuana. Where can I smoke it?
A: Smoking or consuming marijuana in public is off-limits, and getting caught will cost you a $600 fine.
That means the only place to smoke is in a private residence. Think houses, apartments, condos, etc. Las Vegas police said this extends to driveways and patios, as well, but not to sidewalks or streets.
Marijuana use is banned on the Strip and on all gaming properties in the state. Tourists can’t smoke marijuana in hotel rooms or anywhere on resorts’ grounds.
Nevada lawmakers considered legislation to create marijuana social clubs, but the bill died.
Q: Will the Metropolitan Police Department enforce the prohibition on public consumption?
Officer Larry Hadfield, a Metro spokesman, said the agency’s enforcement priorities will not be affected by the recreational rollout this weekend.
“Where you can smoke, it hasn’t changed,” he said. Public consumption will still be illegal.
Q: Can I report public marijuana use to police?
Hadfield specified that complaints about public consumption should be reported to 311 because it’s a nonviolent crime. Officers will continue to give calls in which there is imminent danger a higher priority.
Q: Can I drive with marijuana in the car?
A: Yes, much like alcohol. You can carry it around or drive with it in your car, but driving stoned is still very much against the law. Not even passengers can smoke or consume marijuana in a vehicle under Nevada law.
A marijuana DUI could land you a fine of up to $1,000, a suspended license and even jail time.
Q: What’s going on with legal challenges and what does it mean for sales?
A: A judge ruled that liquor distributors should have exclusive rights to transport marijuana from cultivation facilities to dispensaries. But the state said none of the five alcohol distributors that applied to do so are ready to go, and it intends to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Stores can sell the inventory they have in-stock, but without a licensed distributor, no dispensary will be able to replenish its supply. Dispensary owners fear that they could run out of recreational products in weeks or even days if the distribution issue is dragged out in a lengthy legal battle.
Q: OK, but how much will it actually cost me?
A: Prices for recreational pot are going to be high. Medical prices in Las Vegas for ⅛ ounce ranges from about $30 to $60 currently. Several stores estimate recreational costs will be up to $80 for ⅛ ounce, and north of $400 for an ounce of higher grade plant.
For reference, an ounce of dried marijuana flower produces about 40 to 60 cigarettes, depending on your rolling preference.
Prices for ⅛ ounce in Washington and Colorado typically range from $20-$60, and between $200-$375 for a full ounce, depending on the strain.
Chronic pain sufferers will now be able to get medical marijuana prescribed to them in New York.
After announcing in December it planned to add chronic pain to its list of eligible conditions, the state Health Department on Thursday said medical marijuana for the ailment will be available starting Wednesday.
The Health Department also said physician assistants can now register to prescribe medical marijuana — the latest group of health-care professionals allowed to prescribe the drug
The moves, which the state outlined last year, are aimed at bolstering the state’s medical marijuana program, which started last year and has had difficulty registering patients and prescribers.
“Improving patient access to medical marijuana continues to be one of our top priorities, as it has been since the launch of the program,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement. “These key enhancements further that goal.”
The state has sought to address the concerns by allowing more conditions to be treated with medical marijuana and allowing nurse practitioners — and now physician assistants — to prescribe it.
The state has nearly 900 health-care professionals who have registered to prescribe medical marijuana and and 14,437 patients have been certified to buy the drug at one of 20 dispensaries in New York.
Practitioners have to take an online course to prescribe medical marijuana; patients have to be certified by their doctors to get the drug.
The state defines chronic pain as “any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability” and when other options have been unsuccessful.
It also defines chronic pain as “having lasted three months or more beyond onset, or the practitioner reasonably anticipates such pain to last three months or more beyond onset.”
Chronic pain is now added to the list of 10 conditions that qualify for medical marijuana usage: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS; Lou Gehrig’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; multiple sclerosis; spinal damage; epilepsy; inflammatory bowel disease; neuropathies; and Huntington’s disease.
As for physician assistants, they can register with the Health Department to certify patients, as long as their supervising physician is also registered to certify patients.
For more information about New York’s Medical Marijuana program, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/