World’s Largest Cannabis Mega-Store Splashes Down in Las Vegas

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Planet 13, the world’s largest retail cannabis store, opened to a celebrity, industry, and politician-packed crowd of VIPs Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

Nevada state gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak, state Sen. Tick Segerblom and North Las Vegas mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown joined several hundred attendees at the $7.5 million Planet 13 super-store dispensary, which features 45 cash registers, a digital koi pond floor, and hovering drone light orbs just off the Vegas Strip.

“Welcome to Amsterdam on steroids. Can you believe this?” said Sen. Segerblom. “This really sets the bar for cannabis in the world.”

Not ‘The Hangover IV,’ just four bros enjoying the Planet 13 opening night bash. (David Downs/Leafly)

As thumping bass music from Justice played, VIPs gnoshed shrimp cocktail, fig brie crostini and lined up for complimentary glasses of Meiomi sparkling wine, Saint Clair Savignon Blanc, and specialty cocktails. Folks talked about the election, posed for selfies with a squad of cabaret dancers, and checked out the store’s interactive LED display. A public grand opening is scheduled to follow on Thursday morning.

A New Stage for Legal Cannabis

Planet 13’s grand opening exemplifies a new stage in legal cannabis commerce—which started at the margins of progressive political reform, but now stands close center of US civic life. Staunch Republican conservatives like John Boehner now sit as directors of cannabis companies.

Libertarian-leaning Nevada legalized recreational cannabis in 2016—along with three other states— and beat California to a retail sales launch in July of 2017. There are now 61 licensed, adult-use stores throughout Nevada serving adults 21 and over who can show valid identification.

Nevada’s cannabis industry generated about $425 million in revenue in its first year of commercial sales, yielding $70 million in taxes, with $25 million devoted to schools. Nevada’s rookie year performance came in 40% over projections, and bested the adult-use launches of Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

Pamela A. Goynes-Brown, mayor pro-tem North Las Vegas, said the state learned the lessons of forerunners Colorado and Washington—tightly fusing industry to regulators. Cannabis has medical value, adults can responsibly use it, and the industry is putting people to work, she said.

“We’ve come a long way getting people to change their mindset.”

‘May I see your pass?’ The Planet 13 opening was the hottest ticket in town this week. (David Downs/Leafly)

Heavy Players Involved

Planet 13 is politically loaded—the brainchild of CEO Bob Groesbeck and business partner Larry Scheffler. Groesbeck used to be mayor of nearby Henderson, NV, while Scheffler sat on the council. The two converted an old Coors Beer warehouse into the 112,000 square-foot weed superstore, which boasts 45 cash registers and interactive LED displays.

The glitz is designed “to help us to try to out-Vegas Vegas,” said Scheffler.

“We wanted to do something audacious that’s never been done in Vegas or the world,” Groesbeck said during a speech. “Did we succeed?”

The crowd cheered.

Vegas-Sized for the Vegas Market

The super-store hopes to meet the super-charged tourism demand of Las Vegas where roughly 3.5 million tourists visited in the month of August alone—646,000 of them for a convention. Gaming revenue totaled $756 million for August as well.

Planet 13 is a reference to co-owner Larry Scheffler’s high school code for cannabis.

“I’m often asked how Nevada will compete as other states begin to legalize adult use cannabis and you are looking at it,” Riana Durrett, Executive Director of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “Nevada will strictly regulate the cannabis industry, but it will also innovate and be an international destination for adults. Nevada has something for everyone, from outdoor activities in Northern Nevada to world class entertainment in Southern Nevada. Planet 13 and Nevada’s cannabis industry will keep up with Nevada’s tradition of providing memorable experiences for locals and tourists.

Guests can walk from Planet 13 to big resorts like the Wynn, Mirage, Venetian, Palazzo, and Treasure Island. Also neighbors: the Trump International Hotel; the Deja Vu Showgirls strip club; the Erotic Heritage Museum; and the Hangover Heaven IV drip service.

This is cannabis retail localized to Vegas culture—so slick it induces culture shock.

Lotsa Glitzy Stuff

An 18-foot red orb water feature steams and burbles at guests in the parking lot. The vast, cavernous facility feels like a three-way between a Costco, a laser tag outlet and a department store. (No product stocked the shelves on Tuesday night, so it was officially a cannabis-dry event.) Armed guards from IGS stood at attention, earpieces in ears, wraparound glasses on standby.

“It’s like Saks Fifth Avenue,” said Romero Brown, age 66 of North Las Vegas, a former New Yorker.

“It’s unbelievable what they have done,” Brown said. “From nickel bags on the corner till now — I never thought I would see marijuana come this far.”

No other retailer comes close to Planet 13 in scale and ambition, he said. “This is the coup de’grace and I’ve been to several stores.”

The new mega-store’s design theme featured red. A lot of red. The party had showgirls to match. (David Downs/Leafly)

‘This Is the Next Phase’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Clark County Commissioner Sisolak said “this shows what the industry has become. This is the beginning of the next phase of the cannabis industry.”

Sisolak made sure to encourage the crowd to vote, warning them that his opponents don’t want to see legal cannabis’ growth in Nevada. “Nevada is the gold standard of gaming and we want to be the gold standard of cannabis worldwide.”

Planet 13 will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening at 9 a.m. Thursday, at 2548 W. Desert Inn Rd.. Several elected officials will appear, including Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom, who will be the honorary first customer. Food trucks and giveaways will treat customers throughout the day.

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