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At this Vegas cannabis lounge, you can try before you buy despite state law

Vegas cannabis lounge
Customers Eric Schell, left, and Deborah Good Bear of Bismarck, N.D., are served concentrated cannabis resin by Eli Rivera, the head “budtender” at the Vegas Tasting Room, Nevada’s only legal cannabis lounge.
(Jay Jones)

A Nevada Native American tribe may have a solution for Las Vegas visitors who want to consume legally purchased marijuana without breaking the law.

The NuWu Cannabis Marketplace recently opened the Vegas Tasting Room, a consumption lounge where patrons can legally try various pot products, despite recent state legislation that has postponed the licensing of such lounges for two years.

“We’re able to do this because [we’re] on our sovereign land here,” Benny Tso, a member of the governing council of the 65-member Las Vegas Paiute Tribe,

Although it’s legal to buy recreational cannabis products in Nevada if you’re over 21, they can’t be smoked in public. They may be used in a private residence, but hotel rooms generally don’t fall into that category.

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“We just wanted to offer a safe, friendly environment, an open space to taste products before you buy them,” Tso said.

Deborah Good Bear and Eric Schell, both from Bismarck, N.D., were visiting and headed for NuWu, which is about a mile from downtown Vegas, to indulge.

Within minutes, the couple was trying dabs, a concentrated cannabis resin that is heated before being inhaled. The hits cost $8 to $9 for one-five-hundredth of a gram.

“This is the top-notch, crème de la crème of your high-resin extractions,” Eli Rivera, NuWu’s head “budtender,” said of the dabs. “They’re a lot more potent.”

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A couple of minutes later, Schell said, “I feel pretty mellow.” Good Bear added, “I feel kinda tired.”

Guests are discouraged from overindulging, just as they are at a bar that serves alcohol. Rivera said people are told occasionally that they have been cut off. Employees will call a cab or ride-service car for someone who cannot drive safely.

“We like to have security nearby, to make sure no one is overconsuming,” said hostess Ali Flores. “We just give them little bits at a time to consume and then check on them periodically.”

Flores provides people with a menu before they pay for their orders.

THC-infused gummy candies and chocolates cost $10. Infused beer, fruit drinks and teas are also $10. Pre-rolled rolled joints cost $20. Package deals start at $75 and let guests try various products before heading out to the expansive store.

“That’s kind of what we wanted to aim for: Come in here, taste it and then go out there and buy bigger quantities,” Flores said.

The lounge, which has leather sofas and big-screen TVs, could be just another bar, except for the distinctive odor.

“We try to create an open-air, non-seedy, welcome atmosphere,” Tso said.

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The Vegas Tasting Room is open noon to 8 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and noon to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays.

Six miles south, Planet 13 Las Vegas, just a few blocks west of the Strip, competes with NuWu for the title of largest dispensary. Both businesses welcome about 3,000 customers each day.

Planet 13 hopes to increase its business by offering new features, including a coffee house, a restaurant and glass walls through which visitors can watch infused candies and drinks being made.

Cannabition, Vegas’ pot-themed museum, plans to move from its downtown location to Planet 13 next year.

But Planet 13 can’t offer a smoking lounge, at least not in the immediate future. The Nevada Legislature won’t take up the issue of bud bars until at least 2021.

“We’ve got a lot of the infrastructure built and ready to go,” said co-Chief Executive Bob Groesbeck. “It’s just that we need the blessings of the state and local governments. And that’s not going to happen right away.”


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