Remember those days of flushing a two-finger lid of grass down the toilet because you thought you heard what might have been a police siren in the distance? Well, those days are long-gone, grandpa. At least in Vegas.
Over the decades, changing mores and — more importantly — an evolving electorate made medical marijuana legal in Nevada back in 2016. And it wasn’t very long before the recreational use of marijuana was legalized.
But laws aren’t simple commandments anymore (if they ever were), and the interesting differences between the federal government’s view of marijuana (they’re agin’ it) and the various state, county, and city jurisdictional differences (not to mention tribal laws ), has created a varied and, um, interesting legal landscape out of a simple pastime.
A Fistful of Caveats
When marijuana and its associated products were for medicinal use only, you needed a Medical Marijuana Card to legally consume marijuana or any other cannabis product in Nevada. But that was then. Now recreational use is legal, too. So who needs a Medical Marijuana Card?
Well, you do, if you have one for the state of Nevada. Hang onto that card — you get to avoid a state tax of around 10% on your marijuana purchases. Also, you get access (with a prescription, of course) to stronger edibles than those available to the frat boys standing behind you in line.
Recreational sales are limited to a single ounce of marijuana (or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated cannabis products such as the various dabs, waxes, crumbles, and oils). Incidentally, in Nevada, medical marijuana purchases are tracked by the government, but recreational marijuana sales are not.
What’s to keep you from buying an ounce of recreational weed at one dispensary, and then promptly walking across the street and buying a second recreational ounce from a different dispensary? Nothing, my good man. Just remember to look both ways before you cross the street.
Also, don’t expect to find a marijuana dispensary within walking distance of the Mirage or the Luxor, because Clark County (which governs the unincorporated portion of Las Vegas) has a law in place that prohibits marijuana dispensaries within about a mile of the Strip.
Oh, one caveat to that caveat: the “dispensary prohibition corridor” narrows when the Strip passes by Vegas’ industrial corridor. This provides the opportunity for a handful of dispensaries to operate within hiking distance of mid-Strip resorts like Wynn and the Palazzo. In fact, thanks to this loophole, Essence is actually located on the Strip.
Because of the “no dispensaries near the Strip” law, even with its caveats as mentioned above, hotel staff such as limo drivers, concierges, and bellmen are hesitant (or even prohibited by management) to aid you in your quest for bud ‘n brownies.
It never hurts to ask, of course, but don’t get angry if the casino’s limo driver won’t drive you to the nearest cannabis dispensary. Odds are, he would lose his job if he did.
On the other hand, Uber doesn’t seem to have a problem with dispensary destinations, and neither does Lyft. Or even your standard cab drivers, for that matter.
Since most of the dispensaries are closer to the outskirts of Vegas than to the Strip, the longer trips mean mo’ money for Uber-Lyft-rideshare-taxi-random-guy-with-a-windowless-van.
Upon reflection, you might want to decline the ride offered by the random guy. I don’t know… Something about him is off, ya know?
One more caveat: Just because it’s legal to buy marijuana doesn’t mean it’s legal to smoke or otherwise imbibe marijuana wherever you please. According to this law firm, “it is illegal to use pot in hotel rooms, casinos, bars, parks, schools, dorms, the office, public transportation, and anywhere else that is not a private home.”
Bearing that in mind, it’s safe to say that your hotel is not going to appreciate you doing machine-gun bong hits in your room. Being in the hospitality industry, of course, the hotel and its staff may try hard not to notice your infraction, but why take chances?
Also, think of the other hotel guests. That ain’t the smell of Lysol they’re complaining about…
Also, even if you’re not imbibing in your room, you’re probably keeping your dispensary purchases there. If so, hide your stash well; the in-room safe is a good place. Sure, hotel staff may not narc on you (it is still theoretically possible; federal law considers cannabis a Schedule I drug, right up there with heroin and LSD). Why take a chance?
There may be hope on the horizon, however. Downtown Vegas (governed by the City of Las Vegas) may see the opening of a few consumption bars/cannabis lounges *checks watch* any moment now. The city council approved a law in 2019 that provides for the licensing and regulation of social consumption bars within Las Vegas city limits. The licenses are limited to existing dispensary licensees.
Okay, really, this is the last caveat: When you finally decide to leave Vegas and return to the sunny climes of Provo or Dubuque, remember that carrying marijuana or cannabis-based products into a state where they are illegal is, well, illegal.
McCarran Airport understands your dilemma, so look for the “no questions asked” disposal boxes they provide before you board.
In case you need further motivation, bear in mind that carrying cannabis beyond the TSA checkpoints is a federal crime.
[Some of] The Las Vegas Dispensaries
There are nearly 200 dispensaries plying their trade in the greater Las Vegas area (I know, right?), and space prohibits listing them all here. Yelp and other such lists on the internet provide ample info on all of them, so I’m going to concentrate on the most popular and well-reviewed dispensaries.
Bear in mind that this is a budding industry (heh-heh, get it?), so changes in management, staffing problems, and the vagaries of federal, state, and local law enforcement can all put the proverbial kibosh on the best-laid plans of the visiting toker.
Incidentally, it’s rumored that some dispensaries pay the drivers a premium for delivering weed aficionados to their doors. Frankly, I am shocked and appalled at the suggestion that businesses might kick back a buck or two to helpful cab drivers. I suppose the next thing you’re going to tell me is that strip clubs do the same thing. Well, I never!
Las Vegas ReLeaf
Billing itself as the “closest dispensary to the Strip” certainly hasn’t hurt this store’s business. Not only that, but they feature free delivery for the busy cannabis aficionado. Buds, beers, extracts, tinctures, topicals — you name it, and it’s probably on the ReLeaf menu.
You can check out ReLeaf in detail here.
Meanwhile, less than a block away from ReLeaf, Essence is the other “walking-distance-from-Strip” dispensary everybody talks about. Actually, it’s not walking distance from the Strip — it is literally on the Strip.
You can discover Essence here.
MedMen Downtown (Arts District)
Focusing primarily on CBD and THC products such as vapes, flower, topicals, edibles, gummies, tinctures, and balms, MedMen’s business plan suits Las Vegas well. With dozens of locations across the nation, the company obviously has the right idea. This shop is small but well-stocked — and is well within range of even the most anti-walking among us (I’m looking at you, man in the mirror!).
They’re open every day from 10am to midnight. You can learn more about them here.
Right across the street from the Cannabis Chapel (in case you, like, want to get married to somebody for some reason), The Grove has won numerous awards as Best this and Most that. What’s really important, though, is that they grow and distill much of their product line.
They actually have two locations — one near McCarran International and one in Pahrump, Nevada (another destination city near Vegas that features a different but still legal sort of entertainment).
Whether you favor vaping or smoking, are looking for some dabs or edibles to try, or merely want to check out the many varieties of terpenes available, The Grove has the answer. Now — what was the question?
You can check out the variety The Grove has to offer here.
Planet 13 describes itself as a “Cannabis Superstore and Entertainment Complex” — and they may not be far from correct. From the outside, Planet 13 does look more like a nightclub than what you might expect something called a dispensary to be. And its open floor plan allows its patrons to explore and browse — why, it’s almost like shopping!
Located on Desert Inn Road just off the Strip, Planet 13 is open for business 24/7. They even offer rides to and from the store (select locations, of course; don’t try getting a ride from Provo). Visit Planet 13 in cyberspace here.
Reef Dispensary claims to be “conveniently located just off I-15 steps from the Strip,” but don’t fall for that one — China is also “steps away” from the Strip. One helluvalot of steps. This may be a job for Uber-man!
Okay, in all fairness, Reef Dispensary is a lot closer to the Strip than China is. It’s on Western Avenue (northwest of Wynn, near I-15 as advertised) and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Get all the deets about Reef here.
NuWu Cannabis Marketplace
NuWu is unique in Vegas for a variety of reasons. One is that its two locations are on parcels of land owned by the Paiute tribe, and consequently, its patrons are spared having to pay Nevada’s marijuana tax.
Another reason is that the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace is billed as “the world’s largest dispensary” (with retail space of 16,000 square feet, I’m inclined to agree with their brag).
Yet another reason is that both of the NuWu locations feature drive-thru windows. And you thought drive-thrus were just for weddings!
NuWu’s website features online order placement as well as a great deal of info about their various products. You can check NuWu out here.
Okay, you’re at a hotel on the Strip and want to partake. But you don’t want to waste hours flitting about the greater Las Vegas area looking for the right dispensary. Why not have it delivered?
A number of dispensaries offer limited delivery service, but the Cannabis Concierge specializes in it. In fact, that’s all they do — deliver marijuana and cannabis-based products everywhere in Las Vegas, including to casino-resorts on the Strip and downtown.
You can take a look at their inventory and prices, as well as place your first order at the Cannabis Concierge website. Their delivery hours are 10am to 2am, seven days a week.
The Well-Regulated Rabbit Hole
For the casual visitor, Las Vegas can seem like a bizarre Wild West-Emerald City-Wonderland of lost inhibitions and newly discovered affinities. And it is, really. But even Alice’s rabbit hole had rules. Weird, contradictory rules, to be sure — just like rules in real life. Or in Vegas, which is similar to real life.
So, by all means, Par-teh! Dab away. Smoke a pre-roll or vape a terpene you haven’t tried before. And hey — these brownies aren’t going to eat themselves.