What to expect when you walk into a Las Vegas cannabis dispensary

Essence Cannabis Dispensary
Photo: Wade Vandervort

So, you’ve decided to buy some of the marijuana products you voted to legalize last November. What will it be like? According to Armen Yemenidjian, CEO of Essence Cannabis Dispensaries—whose branches at 5765 W. Tropicana Ave. and 2307 Las Vegas Blvd. S. will begin recreational sales at 12:01 a.m. on July 1—it should be a very relaxed and personalized experience.

“When you come through the door, you’ll be greeted by staff, who will ask if you’re a recreational customer or medical patient,” Yemenidjian says. (Other dispensaries do things somewhat differently: “We have separate lines for rec and med,” says Medizin’s VP of sales and marketing, Tanya Lupien.) You’ll be asked to provide proof that you’re at least 21 years old, but that information won’t be recorded. (Essence and other dispensaries do run customer loyalty programs that require personal information, but that’s voluntary.)

Once your age has been verified, you’ll be admitted to a secure consultation/waiting area, where you can draw cash (a necessity; see “Weed 101” on Page 16) from an ATM, then proceed to one of the sale stations, where you’ll talk with a consultant.

“The consultant’s first question will be, ‘Have you ever tried cannabis before?’” Yemenidjian says. “Then they’ll ask in what form you’d like to consume it. The consultant will only ask pre-qualifying questions to better gauge what to recommend to you, and they’ll point you in the right direction.” And, of course, you’re encouraged to ask questions in return—What do you recommend as a sleep aid? What’s the most discreet way to consume? Which strain is best for that Twin Peaks reboot?

Both Yemenidjian and Lupien explain that most dispensaries are staffed with “budtenders” whose mission is to help customers from the start of the process to the finish. If you need further clarification, you’ll be invited to look at the array of products in the cases—edibles, concentrates, vape pens and the like. You won’t find Whole Foods-style bulk bins full of flower, but Essence’s Yemenidjian says that you’ll be able check out any flower you like before you commit to purchase. “We have sniff jars,” he says. “You’ll be able to look at it, smell it and make a determination.”

After that, you make your selections—keep in mind, different strains and products can have dramatically different strengths and effects—and select all the cannabis your green heart desires, up to the one-ounce legal limit. (A conversion table is provided for concentrates, edibles, vapes and other products that can’t simply be weighed like flower can.) Then you put your cash down, gather up your purchases and walk out into the new world. And seriously, if your favorite dispensary has a loyalty program, look into joining it. You’ll likely be back.

Editor’s note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of Greenspun Media Group, the parent company of Las Vegas Weekly, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary.

Photo of Geoff Carter

Geoff Carter

Experts in paleoanthropology believe that Geoff Carter began his career in journalism sometime in the early Grunge period, when he ...

Get more Geoff Carter
Top of Story