Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Nevada in 2016, there’s been a great paradox. It’s legal to buy and possess recreational marijuana, but unless you’re a local resident or friends with one, there’s no place you can legally consume it. Efforts by the City of Las Vegas to greenlight public consumption lounges have been delayed until at least July 2021 by the state Legislature. But there are exceptions.
On October 5, the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace made history by opening the first cannabis consumption lounge in Nevada.
Located on sovereign land owned by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, the nearly 16,000-square-foot marketplace, located just north of the Fremont Street casino corridor, is not beholden to the same restrictions as the rest of the state. Instead, it’s self-regulated through the Las Vegas Paiute Cannabis Authority. As such, there are no Nevada marijuana taxes, no waiting rooms and no reason not to open a consumption lounge.
“We decided to move the industry along and be pioneers,” says Benny Tso, a former chairman of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and current tribal council member. He lobbied with Tick Segerblom to help start the cannabis industry in Nevada. And now he and his tribe are on the forefront of the next canna-vation.
“It’s a safe and secure environment,” Tso says. “Experts administer the dab hit and bong rip; they know what the product is, what it does and how to let consumers consume safely. We’re looking at the safety and well-being of our customers, tribal members and our employees.”
With wooden beams, decorative plants and bistro lighting, the Vegas Tasting Room resembles an upscale craft beer bar or brunch spot. The menu includes pre-rolls, bowls, pipes, concentrates and edibles. The prices are equivalent to a drink on the Strip. Pre-rolls are $20; bowls are $10-$12; pipes are $22-$25; concentrates are $12-$14; and edibles are $8-$10. The NuWu Cannabis Beer ($8) is a lager with Pilsner malt.
“This just gave the tribe three more generations,” Tso says. “Economically for the tribe, it puts us in the position of becoming fully self-sufficient.” Tso says the tribe entered into the cannabis industry as a way to diversify income streams. Revenues will go toward education, elder care, health and government services for the tribe. “People have asked before if we knew what we were doing because cannabis is such a provocative subject. Yes, we do know what we’re doing. We know the conditions of our tribe and its members, what they struggle with. This is why we’re doing that. We can [now afford] to look at things we weren’t able to before.”
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.