Intersection

Will legal marijuana use cut into Vegas’ bar business?

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Marijuana is packaged at The Source dispensary facility newly opened in Henderson, numerous edible marijuana products are also available there too on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.
Photo: L.E. Baskow

In the back-and-forth leading up to the legalization of recreational marijuana, its advocates and detractors fought on several well-trod battlefronts: crime, impaired driving, “think of the children” and so on. But there’s one front of opposition that, while occasionally mentioned, didn’t make it to the sample ballot: “It could hurt local bars.”

Makes sense: Consuming marijuana at home is easier than going out for happy hour. (Might be cheaper, too, when you factor in the price of an Uber or Lyft—which you really ought to be doing, regardless of whether you’re smoking your brain or pickling it.) But all that’s dank isn’t necessarily dark: According to an August 2015 report in The Guardian, liquor sales in Colorado actually increased after legalization. And besides, the owners of your favorite local bars aren’t sweating it just yet.

“From what I have personally seen in Denver, it doesn’t appear to have a significant impact on business,” says Atomic Liquors owner Lance Johns. ReBar’s Derek Stonebarger is strongly pro-legalization, calling it “an incredible opportunity for Nevada, with regards to tax revenues and job creation,” adding that these new revenue streams could “lead to more local celebrations, more outings and more bar business in general.”

Velveteen Rabbit co-owner Christina Dylag strikes a more cautious note. She says that the Rabbit is “neutral from a proprietor standpoint,” but is justly concerned about an “increased risk of over-serving patrons, if they’re doubly intoxicated without our knowledge.” Just up Main Street, Hop Nuts Brewing owner Kevin Holder says he’s cool with legal weed, but only as long as you don’t bring it into his nonsmoking bar or light up on his front patio, where cigarette smoking is currently allowed. “I don’t think people are ready for that yet,” Holder says.

And Frankie’s Tiki Room/Double Down Saloon owner P Moss offers his own proof that everything’s gonna be okay. A medical marijuana dispensary, the Grove, is already operating next door to the Double Down, and has proved to be a good neighbor: “We have co-hosted promotional parties with them, and they provide outdoor security 24/7.” And for the record, Moss shares our now-proven enthusiasm for state-regulated cannabis. “That way, the quality of what is sold is primo, and nobody gets stuck with skank weed,” he says.

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