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Nevada Tops $340 Million In Legal Weed Sales, Crushing First Year Expectations

As Las Vegas debates the place of social cannabis lounges, Silver State pot shops continue to sell legal bud hand over fist.

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Photo via Jardin Dispensary, Las Vegas

It’s been one year since Nevada skipped the traditional year-plus waiting period and enacted an early start for recreational cannabis sales. Now, despite a handful of objections at the time and early supply issues, the Silver State is bringing in more marijuana money than anyone had predicted, cementing the southwest desert as a new hub in America’s growing green rush.

According to reports from CBS and NBC affiliates in Las Vegas, during the first 10 months of adult-use cannabis sales alone, Nevada retailers brought in more than $340 million in revenue, surpassing early expectations by more than 100%. Combining recreational and medical sales, Nevada pot shops sold more than $433 million in total product.

"It's exceeded our expectations, just about every other dispensary in town," said John Mueller, CEO of Acres Cannabis dispensary. "I think the more people that know it's available, and it's a better solution than alcohol, we will see increased sales over the next year, and I think we'll see 2019 will be a billion-dollar year for this market."

A major tourist destination, the Silver State is still contemplating the best ways to enable cannabis access for all residents and visitors. In Las Vegas, Clark County Commissioners are currently considering an ordinance to legalize social-use pot clubs that would allow tourists to legally experience all of Sin City’s unique amenities. Currently, cannabis use is banned in all Las Vegas hotels, casinos, and public spaces.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the county ordinance, if passed, would create licenses for bring-your-own-weed social clubs that would serve food, beer, and wine, but not sell cannabis or hard liquor. The proposed bud bars would have to be equipped with 24-hour surveillance, be at least 1,000 feet from any school, and pay a hefty $5,000 annual county operations fee.

Across America’s legal weed landscape, Denver, Colorado is the only city that allows stand-alone pot lounges at this time, with just one storefront, The Coffee Joint, open for business. Denver’s social regulations are also significantly more strict than Las Vegas’ proposed rules, with laws restricting smoking and banning alcohol altogether.

During initial County commission discussions, ordinance sponsor Bob Coffin argued that allowing beer and wine sales would create a more complete “social atmosphere” at pot clubs.

“Social requires several kinds of lubricants, and food,” Coffin said.

If Sin City can open the country’s first legal space where cannabis users can freely light a joint and mingle with beer drinkers and wine sippers, Nevada stands to gain even more acclaim as ground zero for the perfect adult vacation, while bringing in even more tax revenue to state coffers.

“It’s pretty exciting to see the positive changes,” Matthew Gardner, the vice president of Shango dispensary in Vegas, told NBC3. “Thirty-five thousand jobs, creating well over $50 million in tax revenue now, beyond projections.”

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