Intersection

With dispensaries still busy, how will traditional pot dealers be affected?

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For all the giddy news of long lines and robust sales, one group has been semi-forgotten amid Nevada’s recreational marijuana boom: your friendly neighborhood pot dealer. Now that weed is legal, what will happen to the black market? Here are a few factors to consider:

Lower prices. For now, illegal marijuana continues to be cheaper, if for no other reason than it’s not subject to any taxes or regulations. Word on the street is that dealers don’t seem too worried. If anything, the destigmatization and ubiquity of cannabis could actually help drive business.

Loyalty. For longtime users, it’s easiest to carry on as usual. “Our dealer is our friend, so we want to throw him a bone every once in awhile,” says Rob, who withheld his last name. Unless there’s a reason to change. Rob has already visited a dispensary three times. “It’s like a McDonald’s for pot,” he says.

Supporting small business. Another (anonymous) buyer said he plans to continue purchasing from his usual dealer. Even though he’s happy about the new taxes levied onto legal recreational cannabis, he’d rather support the little guy. “It’s like your local bar,” he says. “They know you and they know what you like.”

Upping the game. Faced with corporate competition, dealers might eventually adapt to keep their profit share. One anonymous dealer reported having clients suddenly demanding boutique-caliber packaging. Now that dispensaries offer special child-proof containers, the traditional plastic baggie seems shoddy.

Variety and convenience. The dealer’s best customer will stray if he or she needs to purchase a more elaborate product, like edibles or vape pen oil. There’s no denying that dispensaries boast the widest selections. Says local Blair Dewane: “They’re everything a 16-year-old dreamt about as a young stoner.”

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