Ne­vada launches sales of recre­ational mar­i­juana

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Ne­vada be­came the fifth state in the US with stores sell­ing mar­i­juana for recre­ational pur­poses, open­ing a mar­ket early yes­ter­day that is even­tu­ally ex­pected to out­pace any other in the na­tion thanks to the mil­lions of tourists who flock to Las Ve­gas. Peo­ple be­gan pur­chas­ing mar­i­juana shortly af­ter mid­night, just months af­ter vot­ers ap­proved le­gal­iza­tion in Novem­ber and mark­ing the fastest turn­around from the bal­lot box to re­tail sales in the coun­try.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple lined up at Essence Cannabis Dis­pen­sary on the Las Ve­gas Strip. Peo­ple were ex­cited and well­be­haved as a lone se­cu­rity guard looked on. A valet was avail­able to park the cars of cus­tomers. A cheer erupted when the doors opened. Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. Tourists are ex­pected to make nearly two of ev­ery three recre­ational pot pur­chases in Ne­vada, but peo­ple can only use the drug in a pri­vate home.

It re­mains il­le­gal to light up in pub­lic ar­eas, in­clud­ing the Las Ve­gas Strip, casi­nos, bars, restau­rants, parks, con­ven­tion cen­ters and con­cert halls - places fre­quently vis­ited by tourists. Vi­o­la­tors face a $600 fine. And driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana is still il­le­gal. De­spite the lim­its on where peo­ple can get high and re­stric­tions on where the in­dus­try can ad­ver­tise, dis­pen­saries worked fu­ri­ously to pre­pare for the launch. They stamped la­bels on pot prod­ucts, stocked up their shelves, added se­cu­rity and check­out sta­tions, and an­nounced spe­cials.

Desert Grown Farms hired about 60 ad­di­tional em­ploy­ees. Work­ers in scrubs, hair nets and sur­gi­cal masks slapped stick­ers on sealed jars this week as oth­ers checked on mar­i­juana plants or care­fully weighed buds. “It would be a good prob­lem to have if I couldn’t meet my de­mand,” said CEO Ar­men Ye­menid­jian, whose Desert Grown Farms owns the only dis­pen­sary that is sell­ing recre­ational pot on the Las Ve­gas Strip, across the street from the Strato­sphere ho­tel.

Some dis­pen­saries took to so­cial me­dia to spread the word or tried to draw in buy­ers with spe­cial events. Some planned to give away free mar­i­juana to their first 100 cus­tomers or throw par­ties with bar­be­cues and food trucks later in the af­ter­noon. Some fa­cil­i­ties are in strip malls, while oth­ers, in stereo­typ­i­cal Las Ve­gas fash­ion, are in neigh­bor­hoods shared by strip clubs. Ne­vada joins Colorado, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton and Alaska in al­low­ing adults to buy the drug that’s still banned by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. —AP


LAS VE­GAS: Cus­tomers buy cannabis prod­ucts at Essence Ve­gas Cannabis Dis­pen­sary af­ter the start of recre­ational mar­i­juana sales be­gan yes­ter­day.

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