America's Next Capital of Cannabis?
I was recently in Las Vegas, speaking at the MoneyShow. My presentation was “Cannabis Picks for Maximum Profits.” And the hall was packed. Packed! The crowd ranged from young to old. Plenty of seniors want to cash in on the cannabis megatrend.
Since I was in town, I decided to go on a tour of Las Vegas’ cannabis scene. After all, we have medical marijuana in Florida, but it’s very tightly controlled.
The good ol’ boys in Tallahassee are legalizing grudgingly. They reserve most of the money-making opportunities for themselves and their fat-cat friends. So, I wanted to check out Nevada’s more free-wheeling, recreational scene.
To do that, I visited three different dispensaries. Here’s what I learned from my tour of the city …
The Las Vegas ‘Green Light District’
My tour guide was Jeff Johnson, owner/operator of 420 Tours, and his friend and co-worker Brian. They consider themselves “the sherpas of cannabis.”
Jeff is one of those entrepreneurs who has his finger in many pies. One is his tours. Another is cannabis-themed wedding parties that he gives, complete with toasty party favors.
And yet another business Jeff runs has very little to do with THC. When the agriculture department legalized hemp last year, they also tightened up the rules. Now, farmers can’t sell to just anybody. They have to sell to an industrial hemp handler.
That’s what Jeff is. He puts a team together to cut, trim, test and package hemp that he buys from farmers. This hemp can then be sold to retailers or producers who use it as an input in creams, lotions, topicals and so on.
Anyway, Jeff and Brian showed me around. We started with a place called Blackjack Collective. It used to be out in the “Green Light District,” what Jeff calls the warehouse areas where there are about 20 dispensaries.
Blackjack just moved to a fancy new place on the Vegas Strip. And then — even before it had time to put up a proper sign — it was bought by Curaleaf (OTCQX: CURLF).
Curaleaf is America’s largest cannabis retailer. It is building a network of dispensaries across the country. And they seem to favor buying dispensaries with a lot of good local buzz (ha!).
To enter the building, I had to give my driver’s license to a clerk, who checked and registered it. Then we waited around for a “budtender” to take us around the showroom.
Once we got inside the retail area, it was again very clean, and you’ve gotta love an establishment that has customers literally lined up out the door.
The budtenders know their stuff, too. They not only know THC from CBD, but they also know all the different cannabinoids and terpenes and what they do.
Next, we went to a dispensary called Acres. This is smack in the Green Light District. It’s known as a locals’ dispensary. It had an even longer line than Blackjack Collective.
The War on Weed Museum
It also had an awesome museum, which included the history of America’s misguided and racist war on weed.
I actually learned a lot from the wall of Acres. I even saw a 13-star American flag that had been woven from hemp! Do you know that the drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper? You do now.
I also saw people working in a lab, refining raw marijuana.
Extraction experts create the cannabis oil, which is then used to make edibles. The kitchen was closed, unfortunately.
And I learned something about Acres. It has been bought by … Curaleaf.
I am starting to see a theme here.
The Apple of Dispensaries
Next, we went to a store called Planet 13. This is owned by Planet 13 Holdings (OTCQX: PLNHF).
This is a superstore that is sometimes called the “Walmart of Weed.” But I believe that’s wrong. It’s more accurate to call it the “Apple Store” of the cannabis world. I’ll explain why.
Planet 13 has long display cases filled with examples of premium weed. It also showcases brands endorsed by celebrities.
Mike Tyson, for example, is a weed entrepreneur, and has a 40-acre marijuana destination resort in California called “Tyson Ranch.” Here in Las Vegas, at Planet 13, he has some of his favorite marijuana displayed alongside a pair of his boxing gloves.
Planet 13 was also giving out samples of CBD gummies. Yummy! Those things were delicious. I had three. Others had more.
More thoughts …
- At Planet 13, Jeff pointed out that groups of ladies were shopping for cannabis together. “It used to be, ‘I’ll smoke what my boyfriend is smoking,’ ” he said. “Legalization has taken the stigma off.”
- Planet 13 charges premium prices for most of the stuff it sells. People pay twice there what they would at, say, the Blackjack Collective. Why do more than a thousand people a day shop there, then? Because Planet 13 offers an experience akin to an Apple Store along with a celebrity chaser. The “cool” factor is off the charts.
- Everything from the hemp that Jeff and Brian packaged at their shop to all the myriad products sold at every dispensary I visited requires very exact packaging.
Could Las Vegas Become
America’s Cannabis Capital?
Public consumption of cannabis (either medical or recreational) is illegal and remains punishable by law across the state of Nevada.
Marijuana lounges were just legalized in Las Vegas. The plan was to roll out regulations, and then get the lounges up and running in six months. Licenses for cannabis lounges will only be awarded to those businesses already approved to operate dispensaries. That could see use become even more open. This could, in fact, turn Las Vegas into the Amsterdam of North America.
And that means Las Vegas — already a tourist destination — could become even more of one.
But not so fast …
Nevada has just passed a law setting up a Cannabis Advisory Commission. And as part of that, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is kicking the can down the road for two years on marijuana lounges.
The law could change again. After all, cannabis companies have inordinate amounts of cash. And the older I get, the more I realize it is money, not people, that make laws.
I’ll keep my eye on Nevada, as they try to navigate the cannabis megatrend. I’ve named a couple companies that are leveraged to that trend. But before you buy anything, do your own due diligence.
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All the best,