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Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin At Crowded Nevada Dispensaries

Lucio Ortiz shops for marijuana at The Source dispensary Saturday in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada on July 1.
AP Photo/John Locher

Lucio Ortiz shops for marijuana at The Source dispensary Saturday in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada on July 1.

Nevada welcomed legal recreational marijuana over the weekend with long lines and hoopla.

Approved by Nevada voters in November, recreational marijuana went on sale at midnight Friday with hundreds of people lined up outside dispensaries around the state, some of which featured fireworks, grooving DJs, and celebrity appearances.

“Once again, Nevada knows how to regulate a vice,” said Beth Schwartz, founding editor of Elevate, a Las Vegas-based magazine that covers marijuana.

Marijuana industry supporter and state Sen. Tick Segerblom was first in line at the jam-packed Reef dispensary, just west of the Strip, where he picked up a pre-rolled joint of Segerblom Haze, a marijuana strain named in his honor.

“I was afraid that no one would even know what was happening, but obviously the world and people in Las Vegas were well aware of it,” said Segerblom.

People in Northern Nevada were well aware of it, too.

“There were lines around the dispensaries starting at midnight on Friday and all the way through Sunday afternoon,” said Northern Nevada journalist Bob Conrad, who runs the news website.

Interest in Nevada’s budding recreational cannabis market has also been noticed outside the borders of the Silver State, according to Brannon Zimbelman, brand manager for, a travel website that caters to marijuana aficionados.

“Colorado has always been the No. 1 searched item,” he said. “In the last month, Las Vegas has completely surpassed Colorado,” which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

Gaming regulators and federal authorities have yet to join the party and marijuana remains illegal under federal law and banned from the casino floor.

“Gaming Control has zero tolerance as far as use of marijuana in the hotels and in gaming” areas, said Tommy Burns, a former Henderson police chief and hotel security boss who is now a security consultant with Burns & Associates.

Burns said it’s unlikely hotels will ask that brazen marijuana users be arrested for smoking in public, which remains illegal, but they will be told to leave the property. He also said those who smoke in their hotel rooms will be penalized more for smelling up the room than for using marijuana.

The solution, said both Burns and Zimbleman, is to partake in edibles, or vape.

In fact, Zimbleman points out, vape smoke can have many flavors, with none of the traditional pot smell.

Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska as states with legal recreational markets. Sales start in neighboring California on Jan. 1.


Tick Segerblom, state senator; Beth Schwartz, editor, Elevate Nevada; Brannon Zimbelman,; Tommy Burns, security consultant; Bob Conrad,

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)
With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.