Will Las Vegas Be the New Pot Tourism Capital of the U.S.?
As of 12:01 a.m Saturday, legal adult marijuana sales begin in Nevada. And they will commence immediately, with dispensaries on the Las Vegas Strip announcing plans to be open to usher in Sin City's newest attraction.
But don't go lighting up on the Strip! Smoking in public is not allowed.
Nevada now joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in allowing people to legally buy and sell weed in pot shops. It's the first of the states where voters legalized it at the polls last year to see shops open, getting out of the gate ahead of California, Maine, and Massachusetts.
That's because the state fast-tracked legal pot sales by granting licenses to a few dozen existing medical marijuana dispensaries so they could sell to any adults while officials finalized regulations for the legal marijuana market, which was mandated to begin by January 1, 2018.
So, now that you can add legal weed to Las Vegas's allures, here's a few things you need to know:
1. How much can I buy? Visitors and residents alike can purchase up to an ounce of buds and up to an eighth-ounce of marijuana edibles.
2. Where can I buy it? Look for medical marijuana dispensaries that have been granted recreational sales licenses. Those are clustered in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, including dispensaries on the Strip. There's a complete list of dispensaries here, but remember, not all have the recreational sales okay, so if you're about to go shopping, contact them directly to find out.
3. What do I need? You need to be at least 21 and have government-issued ID that says so. If you're a medical marijuana card holder, you don't have to be 21. And you need to have cash. That's because the federal government refuses to let banks handle marijuana business since pot is still federally illegal. Congress is working on this issue, but in the meantime, hit the ATM ahead of shopping.
4. What should I buy? Regular consumers will have a pretty good idea what they like, but novices can consult their budtenders. There will be a variety of high-quality, high-potency strains on sale, both "stimulating" sativas and "enervating" indicas, as well as a dizzying plethora of hybrid strains.
5. What about edibles? Edibles will be on sale, too, in a wide variety of forms, but because of emergency regulations issued Monday by the Department of Taxation, those products can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose or 100 milligrams per package. That 10 milligram measure is a good one; novice users will certainly feel an impact at that level. But those emergency regs, which also restrict packaging and labeling, are likely to produce initial shortages of edibles given the short lag time between their roll-out and opening day.
6. What's it going to cost? Grams will be going for $10 to $15, ounces for anywhere from $150 for bargain buds to $325 for the primo. Edibles prices will depend on the various products. k
7. Where can I smoke it? Well, therein lies the rub, especially for visitors. The only places smoking pot is allowed are at your home or on your front porch. There's no smoking it on the Strip, in clubs or casinos, at rock concerts, or any other public place. And there's no smoking it in hotel rooms, either. Either a lot of tourists are going to end up with public smoking citations, or they start making local friends in a hurry, or they end up paying smoke damage surcharges on their hotel room credit card bills, or all of the above. This is going to have to change, especially since estimates are nearly two-thirds of legal pot buyers are going to be visitors. In the meantime, it could make edibles more attractive.
8. Can I take it home with me? Not if you live in a state where it is illegal. And if you live in a state where it is legal, why bother? If you get caught trying to bring it onto an airplane, the TSA won't bust you (because they're after terrorists, not tourists), but will turn you over to the local cops, who also won’t bust you (since your weed isn't illegal in Nevada), but the hassle might cause you to miss your flight.