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On Eve Of Election, Marijuana Superstore Quietly Awaits Its Destiny

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The inside of the Blum marijuana dispensary is equipped to handle 1,500-2,000 customers a day if the adult use of marijuana is approved by voters on Election Day.

Behind the scenes, it looks like any other office: Chairs, desks, computers, printers. In its first week of operation, the Blum marijuana dispensary is relatively quiet. 

But the beeps emitting from the secure doors is one clue this isn’t just any office. The dispensary, located on Desert Inn Road, has been designed to handle more customer capacity than any other in the region. Operating at about 5,000 square feet, it’s the first marijuana “superstore” in Nevada. 

“To reference against our location up in Northern California in Oakland, we see about 1,000 people a day of a footprint that’s about half this size," said Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, which owns Blum. "So we think with full stations operating we could see anywhere from about 1,000-2,000 people a day without having bogged down lines and a good customer experience." 

Terra Tech, which owns Blum dispensaries, was the first publicly traded cannabis dispensary in the world. This new model of superstore Peterson says, represents the future of the cannabis industry.

But the success of this superstore may depend on the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Should Nevada voters vote yes on Question 2, which would legalize the adult use of marijuana, the customer volume at Blum and other dispensaries could skyrocket.  

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“Because it’s a new medical program that may potentially overnight be a recreational program, the best analogy I can give you is that you’re going 10 mph to 90 in a very short amount of time," Peterson said. 

So the scene on this day at Blum might be the calm before the storm. The one budtender on duty stands alone behind a counter equipped to let dozens of employees service customers --some day. At its full operation, Blum may have 65-70 employees. 

On the walls, large black and white, artistic portraits of people smoking add to the chic design and modern feel. 

"It's to really show that everyone is a cannabis consumer ... and to get over the 'stoner' stereotype," Peterson said. 

"It's to really show that everyone is a cannabis consumer ... and to get over the 'stoner' stereotype," Peterson said. 

Blum operates on something Peterson has dubbed the "Starbucks Model" which focuses on consistency of a product from state to state, store to store rather than quantity. 

 “I’m going to be frustrated if I go get a latte in San Francisco and then I come to Las Vegas and get something entirely different," Peterson said. 

The superstore is no doubt large by dispensary standards, but Peterson said the economics, by scale, much more closely resemble that of a boutique.  

So could a mom and pop dispensary survive in this new climate of the marijuana industry? The buildout of a facility alone costs anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million, and that's not to mention production and cultivation costs. 

“Capital expenditure is significant. Talking anywhere from $5-15 milllion to build cultivation, another $1.5 to 2 million to build extraction facilities," Peterson said. 

And of course, there’s always the question of 'what if' Question 2 doesn’t pass? 

“Some people will be able to weather that and others won’t," Peterson said.

Right now, it’s a waiting game until the end of Election Day. 

Guests

Derek Peterson, CEO, TerraTech 

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