Nevada is now the fifth state with stores selling recreational pot – news that was greeted enthusiastically by tourists and locals alike as business opened on Saturday.
A mix of first-timers, veteran users, retirees and young adults braved the blazing heat to flock to stores across the Las Vegas area, some of which opened right after midnight. Free water, live music, and other promotions celebrated the new law, while employees answered customer queries on Nevada’s consumption regulations and available products, NBC News reports.
This is a market that is expected to outdo all others in the country, as around 42 million people visit Las Vegas alone each year.
Tourists are expected to buy two or three purchases at a time, thought the use of the drug is only allowed in private homes. It remains illegal to use recreational pot in public, including hotels, casinos and the Strip. The penalty for doing so is $600.
Some marijuana dispensaries used social media to spread the word, or tried to encourage sales with special events. Others gave away free pot to the first 100 people in line, and at least one shop ran a raffle for free weed next year.
People 21 years and older can buy up to an ounce of pot, if they have a valid ID. As of Friday, Nevada had 44 licensed dispensaries selling recreational marijuana. Of those, 39 are in the Las Vegas area.
Sen. Tick Segerblom of Nevada, one of the primary advocates for marijuana legalization, made the first purchase at The Source dispensary, located in a strip mall. Other residents followed suit, and at least 80 transactions were recorded within an hour after the shop’s doors opened.
Some pot shops are in strip malls, while others are in neighborhoods with strip clubs, in true Sin City style. Some dispensaries even have ATM machines inside, as only cash can be used to buy recreational marijuana.
Voters approved the legalization of the drug in November, making this the fastest turnaround from ballot box to implementation in the USA. Nevada joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as the only states where recreational weed is legal.