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Talking cannabis with Alex Unruh and Morgan Martin of Las Vegas’ ShowGrow Dispensary

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ShowGrow interior
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

ShowGrow Las Vegas Dispensary, at Tropicana and Fort Apache, is in a unique position. As the closest dispensary to Summerlin—where dispensaries are prohibited—it gets a sizable share of that community’s business. It’s run by Alex Unruh and Morgan Martin, two former budtenders who hold the distinction of being the rare female bosses in a male-dominated industry. The Weekly chatted up Unruh and Martin about life in the cannabis biz during a pandemic.

What are some trends that you’re noticing in the industry?

Alex: Flower, I would say has been, and continues to be, our No. 1 seller in store. We get the oldies who have been smoking it for years, and then that’s just the safest option for new users as well. Vapes are huge in the market, especially in Las Vegas. It’s a very discreet way to enjoy cannabis in public, if that’s what you want to do. And then edibles, I would say, are very popular among our older crowds. They don’t really want to be smoking; they’re more concerned about health benefits and whatnot. Sleeping is also a huge thing, and edibles are a great option for that.

Did you see a big uptick in business during the pandemic?

Alex:Absolutely. We have never worked more in our lives. We were working 14-hour days probably the first month.

Morgan:It was the same scenario as the toilet paper. Everyone was just stocking up, because I think they were under the assumption that we were going to close—because we weren’t, in their eyes, essential. Then we were deemed essential, so we had to switch over to delivery. The day before the [closure] announcement was made, we probably had the biggest numbers we’ve ever done. People were just coming in to clear out the store. And then we went fully delivery. Now those are staples of our operation—we have in-store shopping, curbside and delivery.

What do you recommend for a cannabis novice?

Morgan Martin (left) and Alex Unruh

Morgan Martin (left) and Alex Unruh

Morgan:Edibles would be the best thing, but it’s totally based off of what you’ve come in looking for. A lot of people are still not comfortable with smoking, like Alex said, but I would probably direct the people who are toward a pre-roll or something like that, because you don’t have to have any equipment to use those. Disposable pens and vape pens are always great, because they don’t emit odors, so you can be really discreet with those. Newer smokers don’t have a tolerance yet, so they can look for stuff that is lower-testing and more cost-effective, because they haven’t developed a tolerance like all the rest of us have (laughs).

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in this industry?

Alex:When we first went rec, [other dispensaries were] buying everything, because they want to just be competitive. And then a lot of the cultivators last year, with the pandemic hitting, thought it was a good opportunity to remodel their facilities, but actually, the demand was way, way higher …

Morgan: … because people were sitting at home, smoking, and not at work …

Alex: … so it was a struggle to even get a good amount of flower and variety in our store. But probably in the last three months after the holidays, things have kind of normalized.

As more states legalize recreation marijuana across the country, what would you say the culture is like now locally?

Morgan: I think the culture ranges far and wide, from the person who wants to try every product—they fit them together and smoke them together and film them together and all of that. Then there’s the Life Time Fitness mom who wants to smoke in her car but doesn’t want it to smell, so she’s vaping. It just appeals to truly every type of person. You see people that come in here that you are, at first glance, like, “What are you doing here? This does not seem like the place you should be.” But I think it really brings people together, and there’s so many microcosms of different people who enjoy it.

Alex: It’s much more normalized. I think the cannabis community has really come together, especially during this pandemic. We’re the best part of everyone’s day.

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Genevie Durano

As deputy editor at Las Vegas Weekly, Genevie Durano covers the Valley’s dining scene. Previously she lived in New York ...

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