On Black Fridays past, Steven Smith was usually lined up outside of Walmart, Target or Best Buy, a member of the masses stressing to see if they would be lucky enough to score the best deal in exchange for hours of waiting.
But this year, he found himself avoiding that chaos by waiting in a different suburban strip-mall line. And just minutes before doors opened for Friday’s shopping extravaganza, the 32-year-old Las Vegas resident had a small epiphany.
“I’m Black Friday shopping for marijuana,” said Smith, a hint of shock in his voice, as he waited outside the The+Source marijuana dispensary near Sahara Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard.
It was the first Black Friday in which Nevada cannabis dispensaries were able to sell to adults 21-and-over in the general public rather than to just medical marijuana cardholders since recreational pot sales started on July 1.
At Essence Cannabis Dispensary on South Las Vegas Boulevard, people lined up around the the corner awaiting the store’s 10 a.m. opening.
“They’re very excited. We’re fully staffed, all the registers going. It’s fun for them,” Essence CEO Armen Yemenidjian said. “And it’s historic for us to be able to be part of Black Friday.”
For Nevada’s newly minted recreational marijuana industry, the day marked a step toward normalization as it works to shake off years of stigmatization.
“I think we’re collectively celebrating the end of prohibition,” said Andrew Jolley, CEO of The+Source. “What it means for the cannabis movement and overcoming the unjustified stigmas of the past. I’m excited for all of those reasons.”
But for the cannabis shops and the rest of the retail industry, Friday was all about cashing in on the post-Thanksgiving buying blitz with deals. In place of 50-inch TVs and the newest video game systems were discounted marijuana flower strains and edibles, buy-one-get one free sales, even some free cannabis.
For Smith and Greg Brown, 53, it was the allure of a free 1 gram pre-rolled joint with any $20 purchase for the first 250 customers that got them to line up outside The+Source on Friday.
Some customers who showed up scoffed at the line building outside at The+Source as they walked up, but Brown said waiting to buy the discounted cannabis on Black Friday was well worth it when compared to buying it on the black market.
“It’s a lot better than waiting in an alley,” Brown said. “I’m in line, making new friends. It’s just amazing.”
Brown said the stop at the dispensary was his first on Black Friday and one he needed to survive the chaos.
“This is the first one,” Brown said. “After this, I can wait in line smoothly.”