A Step-by-Step Primer for Accessing Medical Marijuana in Las Vegas – and the Latest on Recreational Pot in Sin City
If you’re a legal medical marijuana patient visiting Las Vegas, you’ll be able to win the “Jack-pot” before ever visiting a casino. Las Vegas is such a tourist-friendly town that it makes perfect sense for the Silver State’s medical cannabis law to include reciprocity, meaning registered pot patients from out of state can purchase marijuana and medicate while visiting.
While Nevadans legalized recreational cannabis on November 8 by ballot measure, the details of the program have yet to be worked out by the state. So for now, you’ll have to be a legal pot patient in order to access cannabis in Nevada. To fully enjoy the experience of whatever you’re doing in Vegas, proper medication is key.
1. Select your dispensary. We chose Las Vegas ReLeaf due to its proximity to Las Vegas Blvd. ReLeaf is located at 2244 Paradise Rd, just off the north end of the famed sprawling Strip featuring one iconic casino after another.
2. Make sure you travel with your original medical cannabis recommendation (the one with the seal, if, like me, you’re visiting from California). And of course have your driver’s license/state-issued ID/passport handy. Just don’t forget that recommendation or you’ll be sorry and sans cannabis.
3. Tell your shuttle, cabbie or Uber driver to take you to your pre-selected dispensary. Don’t ask him or her for recommendations. Las Vegas ReLeaf is located within a strip mall with ample parking.
4. Approach the dispensary entrance and be a patient patient. Smile as you’re being observed on camera by indoor personnel. They will buzz you into the security vestibule. You’ll be greeted by a receptionist shielded by protective glass. Show your ID and recommendation to that staff member and they’ll buzz you into…
5. The Main Lobby. This is the area where you will have your recommendation verified. If you’re an out of state patient, you must fill out two forms where you list your basic information, with the second being an affidavit, required by the state of Nevada. You can do this online before you travel or at the facility. I opted for the latter to ensure everything was done correctly. You sign and initial both forms at the properly designated points and you’re ready for the best step of all…
6. The Consultation Room, which is Las Vegas ReLeaf-speak for the “promised land.” Here you’ll find the glass cases containing medical pot products, along with the necessary implements to consume all the dank delights and ganja goodies.
The various stages of the ReLeaf dispensary experience are indicative of the concise compartmentalization of Las Vegas medical cannabis laws. By contrast, some California dispensaries I’ve visited – both in SoCal and NorCal – had the same staffer admit you, prepare your medicine and take your money. No chance in Vegas. But on the bright side, all these required positions provide more employment opportunities.
On display in the Consultation Room are various strains of energetic sativas, stress relieving indicas and healing hybrids along with edibles, pre-rolls and of course, concentrates. You’ll have friendly, knowledgeable budtenders specialized to inform you about the products’ medicinal efficacy and how particular strains and substances treat specific conditions and needs. As we prefer sativa, we paired the Sativa Gummi with a classic Acapulco Gold at a whopping 29.99 percent THC. As I was a first-time patient at Las Vegas ReLeaf, I also received a free gram of another strong sativa, Casey Jones. Las Vegas ReLeaf utilizes the superb Green Life Productions for their medicine. There’s also a “private Consultation Room” for patients who want more discretion when discussing their medical conditions.
Even though I purchased an extremely modest amount of medicine, the quantity still had to be entered into the Nevada Portal, which calculates statewide how much medical pot patients have purchased in a given time-period. All patients are limited to 2.50 ounces (70.87 grams) of cannabis in a two-week period.
7. After you’ve chosen your products, you’ll receive them in your “state compliant exit bag” (everything in the Nevada medical pot scene has an official term). Unlike some California dispensaries that permit patients to open containers, smell and even sample medicine, in Vegas everything is ultra-sealed until you leave the dispensary property. The packaging is done by the distributor, per regulations (and it is not easy to open).
As Las Vegas ReLeaf assistant manager Spencer Franklin explained, all exit bags must be manufactured so that you can’t see the product, you can’t smell the product and that it’s considered childproof. No worries there, based on our experience.
The packaging also provides patients with a detailed breakdown of the chemical compounds within the products, beyond the standard THC and CBD percentages. In Vegas, you’ll know all manner of compounds found within our favorite flower, such as THC-A. It’s quite an impressive breakdown for those seeking comprehensive knowledge of their medicine.
8. Pay for your products with cash or debit card – no credit cards accepted – and the two percent Nevada medical pot tax rate is included in the purchase price. Your cashier might inform you about specials the dispensary has coming up, and then you conveniently exit through a narrow hallway similar to the entrance vestibule. Just like that, you’re outside once again, ready to take on whatever Vegas throws at you with medicine in hand!
The opportunities are endless for cannabis in Vegas, especially now that recreational retail pot was legalized, with the passage of Question 2.
When asked if there would ever be a day when legal ganja and gaming would actually be combined, Franklin opined, “Right now anyone with a gambling license is very protective of that license, and to try to mingle that license with cannabis could put them in a dangerous situation. So they’re not looking to be anywhere near cannabis right now, but over the course of time I’m sure they’ll find a way to incorporate [pot with gambling], and it’ll be beneficial to both.”
As far as ReLeaf transitioning to a recreational retail outlet, assistant manager Michael Jameson explained that the operators would have to go through the application process like any other prospective pot shop owner. However, having an established business that complies with each and every regulation certainly gives his company a “leaf up” on potential competing interests.
Franklin added: “We’re getting a ton of phone calls in our reception area – it’s going nuts, people already asking if they can [buy recreational pot]. But the state needs to write recreational regulations first, so we can only accept medical cards for now.
“We believe in March 2017 is when we’ll be able to begin accepting retail customers and sell recreationally, and we’re super excited about that, obviously.”
Overall, the visit and sign-up at Las Vegas ReLeaf was convenient and stress-free, with a streamlined process that Jameson said was “easier than most [competing dispensaries].” The prices were acceptable, especially with that free gram thrown in – a generously weighted gram at that.
There is a sense of overkill when it comes to the compartmentalizing of each stage of the pot purchasing process, along with the bullet-proof packaging. But these are necessary steps for the opportunity to legally buy weed in a great state and a tourist town that has come a long way from the 70s when billboards warned visitors and residents alike not to “gamble with marijuana.”
Soon enough, selling weed in Vegas could make you richer than a Rat Pack high roller.