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Rising Cannabis Prices Are Pushing Nevada Medical Marijuana Patients Back to the Black Market

With a sky-high demand for recreational cannabis, the state’s medical patients are stuck paying inflated prices or buying from street dealers.

by Zach Harris

Nevada’s first few weeks of recreational weed sales have brought in millions of tax dollars, sped up the resolution of the state’s cannabis distribution issue, and gotten a lot of people stoned. But while Sin City tourists are giddy about the ability to buy legal weed minutes from the Las Vegas strip, local medical marijuana patients are complaining of expensive weed pricing them out of the legal market. 

According to Las Vegas’ local KTNV News, medical patients in the Silver State are so put off by the price increases that they’re abandoning the legal system all together and turning back to black market dealers to meet their medicinal needs.

For Emily Wilson, a yoga instructor who has used cannabis to quell her pain since a chest surgery left her bedridden, the wonder drug that facilitated her recovery is moving out of reach. 

"It changed the whole quality of my life," Wilson said. "Now our prices have almost doubled in some places."

The cost of pot has gone up thanks to new taxes and the flood of tourists knocking down dispensary doors since July 1st. If you ask Wilson though, the state’s new open-access industry is driving Nevada’s original legal weed customers back to the street dealers they relied on during full-scale prohibition.

"Yes, 100 percent they are," Wilson said.

At Las Vegas’ Relief Dispensary, the price hikes are, at the moment, unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean the staff is abandoning their medical customers. 

“We have seen a decrease in our medical patients,” Lissa LaWatsch, general manager of Relief told KTNV. “When you’re on the streets and you’re buying something you don’t really know what you’re getting.”

LaWatsch told reporters that the dispensary allows medical patients to skip the sometimes hour-long lines and that they specifically make sure to stock the products their medical customers have come to rely on. 

Luckily, Wilson and her peers shouldn’t have to wait too long before the dispensary is a welcoming site again. In Colorado, the rapid cannabis industry growth led once-sky high prices to drop considerably, with further price drops expected in the years to come. Hopefully Nevada’s legal weed market will grow exponentially and allow all of the state’s marijuana consumers equal access to the plant.


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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.



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