After almost running out of recreational retail reefer, Nevada has licensed cannabis distributors, millions of dollars in tax revenue and, despite a few hiccups, a fully functioning recreational marijuana market. Unsurprisingly, most of the state’s legal weed business is coming from Las Vegas, where entrepreneurial car owners are making sure licensed pot shops aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of legal weed.
According to Las Vegas’ local KTNV News, Sin City’s Lyft and Uber drivers have been cashing in on regulations that pushed dispensaries off of the Strip and onto the city’s outskirts, and pot shop owners willing to kick back cash for drivers who drop off new customers.
KTNV talked to Keith, a Lyft driver who turned the app-based cab service into a fulltime job, who makes up to $300 a day driving tourists to get their recreational fix. Keith has withheld his last name to protect his anonymity.
"Swear to god it's the best job I've ever had," Keith said. "I'm making now more than I was before, and I'm more relaxed."
Instead of his regular $12 rides from one side of the strip to the other, a trip to a dispensary will take Keith a few miles further into the desert and cost closer to $25. Keith didn’t provide details on his arrangements with local dispensaries, but did say that he can get up to $25 per new customer whose sale he initiates.
In addition to lining his own pockets, drivers like Keith are also keeping stoned drivers out of their own cars and off the road. When asked about the surge in use since legalization, Uber released a statement to KTNV that made sure to focus on the safety aspect of the rideshare hype.
"We have continued to see a steady growth in trips throughout Nevada,” the statement reads. “Marijuana impaired driving is 100% preventable. By providing people with safe ride options, we believe we are empowering people to make better, safer choices. With our technology, we want to help everyone have a safe ride home."
Lyft hasn’t released any statement about the legal weed boom, but the company is no stranger to tinting their business model green. In Colorado, Lyft partnered with the state’s Department of Transportation in April to give cannabis-enthusiasts free and discounted rides to keep the roads clear of impaired drivers.
The rideshare surge might not last forever, but it’s just one more example of how legalization can create economic advancement far past the door of your local neighborhood pot shop or grow-op.