Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 | 2 a.m.
A marijuana specialty product sold for a record price of $11,000 Friday night at a mega-dispensary on tribal land near downtown Las Vegas.
Brandon Hawkins, 36, flew in from Los Angeles on Friday morning to purchase the pot-stuffed, hemp- and 24-karat gold leaf-coated Leira Cannagar — a 24-gram marijuana flower-stuffed blunt — in the early evening hours at Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace. Buying for a business partner who requested anonymity, Hawkins held six large stacks of rubber band-held $20 bills to make the record purchase just after 5 p.m. Friday.
“I’ve always been a proponent of the industry and I’m happy that it has come this far,” he said.
Hawkins, who owns The Hudson restaurant in West Hollywood and lived in Las Vegas for a decade before moving to L.A. in 2012, connected with Las Vegas grower Virtue to arrange the purchase three months ago.
The Los Angeles buyers were inspired by a $10,000 cannagar, sold in Seattle in June, and wanted something similar to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Ranson Shepherd, co-founder of Virtue, and Hawkins knew each other through their previous employment in the Las Vegas nightlife industry, they said.
Shepherd contacted Ariel Payopay, whose Washington state-based producer Leira made the Seattle cannagar, and the two developed a partnership to launch Leira’s cannagars in Las Vegas. In addition to Nuwu, the company plans to market smaller versions of their cannagars for public sale at The Apothecarium, ShowGrow, The Grove and Nevada Made dispensaries.
On Friday, Hawkins walked out to the center of the dispensary shopping area and handed Nuwu budtender Joe Delarosa the cash stacks at one of Nuwu’s 13 points of sale. Delarosa turned around, grabbed the box with the Leira cannagar, stuffed with Virtue’s Pure Haze, sativa-dominant hybrid flower. He shook Hawkins’ hand, and the purchase was official.
Meanwhile, business at the dispensary went on as usual as Hawkins thanked the staff and casually left the facility without delay. None of the 20 customers shopping during the early evening hours on Friday seemed to take notice of the $11,000 weed cigar’s sale.
Benny Tso, tribal council member and former chairman of the Las Vegas Paiutes, said Friday’s purchase serves to “complement the store and complement the industry.” As marijuana consumption lounges move closer to opening in Las Vegas, Tso predicted exotic cannagars like the product sold Friday will become a regular commodity for VIP clients at the lounges.
“This is what marijuana table service will look like in Las Vegas,” he said.
But unlike Seattle’s product, the cannagar in Las Vegas was not infused with cannabis rosin due to differences in Nevada state law. The $11,000 cannagar sold Friday was essentially a massive version of popular dispensary pre-rolls, wrapped in hemp and gold instead of tobacco paper.
The tribe was also gifted a smaller, 14-gram cannagar wrapped only in hemp as a token of thanks from Virtue and Leira.
“They’re pushing the boundaries on the industry and creating economic impact,” Shepherd said of the Paiutes. “These are all minorities coming forth to change the stigma of the industry.”