The former mayor of Las Vegas and a current state senator were among the first Nevadans to legally purchase recreational marijuana on Saturday as the Silver State became the fifth in the nation where adults can legally buy weed without a doctor’s recommendation.
A total of 44 dispensaries were authorized to begin selling recreational pot to customers starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, and hundreds of of customers lined up outside Nevada’s pot shops to be among the first patrons of the state’s recreational weed program.
As many as 300 people were in line outside Oasis Medical Cannabis in Las Vegas when its doors opened at midnight, KTNV reported. Another dispensary across town, Reef Dispensaries, entertained customers with a fireworks show while they waited in line, KSNV reported.
Democratic State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a marijuana legalization supporter, was the first customer when The Source dispensary opened in Las Vegas Saturday morning, the Associated Press reported. Oscar Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas from 1999 to 2011, made the inaugural purchase at another pot shop, Las Vegas ReLeaf.
Of the 44 dispensaries authorized to sell recreational marijuana, 39 are in Clark County – home of Laughlin, Sin City and more than two-thirds of the state’s residents. Four dispensaries have been authorized to sell recreational marijuana in Reno and one in Pahrump, west of Vegas.
Having already legalized gambling and prostitution, proponents of the state’s new marijuana rules expect the experiment will earn the government as much as $150 million through sales taxes in the next two years.
“I personally think it’s really a game changer,” Mr. Segerblom told NBC News this week. “It’s the last vice that’s going to be made legal, and when you look at other states, this is final straw where we’ll have something else to sell where people can take advantage of it. I don’t think [the economic impact will last] forever, but it will be a period of time when [tourists] can come here and do something they can’t do back home.”
Medical and recreational marijuana are both banned by the federal government, but more than half the states have passed laws letting residents legally use cannabis for one reason or another.
Nevada legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and is currently one of 29 states with a system in place for letting patients legally use the plant. A total of nine states and the nation’s capital have passed recreational marijuana laws, but only a handful have gotten a system off the ground for state-sanctioned retail sales, Nevada included: last year its voters passed legislation letting adults 21 and older buy up to an ounce of pot, making it the fifth state in the nation to experiment with regulated and licensed marijuana sales, behind Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington state.
Using marijuana in automobiles as well as public areas, including the Las Vegas Strip and its world-famous casinos is still prohibited by law and punishable by a fine of up to $600.