The doors swung open at the stroke of midnight and the first of thousands of customers poured in – all eager to be part of history.
At 12.01am Saturday, Nevada became the fifth state in the US to make selling recreational marijuana legal and fans of the drug came out in force.
Party town Las Vegas will be the biggest winner from the new legislation with a huge tax windfall of up to $60million predicted for the first two years.
Millions of tourists visiting Sin City are expected to make nearly two of every three purchases from marijuana retailers.
Some in the industry have said Vegas – which attracts more than 42 million tourists annually – will become the ‘mecca for marijuana’ overtaking the likes of Amsterdam in Holland as the world capital of cannabis.
Jim Ferrence from The Euphoria Wellness center in Las Vegas is seen at midnight on July 1, when Nevada became the fifth state in the US to legalize marijuana
More than 500 people lined up outside the Euphoria Wellness dispensary in Enterprise, on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and cheers erupted as the doors opened
Excitement: A man who declined to give his name smells marijuana for sale at The Source dispensary while Lucio Ortiz (right) takes his sweet time in making up his mind
Decisions: A man shops for marijuana at The Source dispensary shortly after it opened on the stroke of midnight on Saturday
Dank nuggets are seen in a display case at Euphoria Wellness. Nevada became the fifth state to legalize marijuana at 12.01am on Saturday
Staff at Euphoria make the final preparations before opening the doors at midnight
A cashier rings up a marijuana sale as Nevada becomes the fifth state to legally sell weed for recreational purposes
Edible cannabis products are displayed at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary before the midnight start of recreational marijuana sales on June 30, 2017 in Las Vegas
Anyone aged 21 or over can now buy up to an ounce of pot at a time in Nevada – joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in changing the law.
Customers can only use the marijuana they buy in the privacy of their own home though, with a $600 fine still in place for those caught smoking pot in public or while driving a vehicle.
More than 500 people lined up outside the Euphoria Wellness dispensary in Enterprise, on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and cheers erupted as the doors opened.
First in line was Zachary Miyasato and his wife Denise who had waited for three hours to buy some pot.
Zachary, 38, a medical marijuana agent, admitted he had driven by the dispensary at 9am and again at 12.30pm, just in case the line had already started.
He said: ‘I love to smoke cannabis and relax. This is great for the city, it’ll bring a lot of money, it’s definitely good for me.’
People wait in line Friday night at the Essence cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas, excited to buy legal marijuana for the first time in Nevada
Customers flooded into the Essence dispensary to examine the wares and buy up to an ounce of marijuana legally
A person buys marijuana at the Essence dispensary. Las Vegas is expected to reap a huge tax windfall of up to $60million for the first two years of legalized sales
Where the crop is grown: Marijuana plants receive light at the Desert Grown Farms cultivation facility in Las Vegas on June 28 – just prior to going on sale across Nevada
Zachary had his eye on varieties of marijuana flower sold at Euphoria called Pineapple Express, Superman OG and Gorilla Glue and he and his wife walked out of the store with around a gram each.
The line to Euphoria snaked around the block and spilled out into the parking lot as more than 500 people tried to get served within the three hour window.
Kyle and Christian Flint were also near the front of the high-spirited line.
The pair, who live locally in Enterprise and have two children, said the change in the law was ‘great news’ and they planned to buy a lot more.
Kyle, a 27-year-old fire inspector, said: ‘Cannabis takes care of the pain, I’m 6ft 8ins, I grew fast. Seriously, it helps with the bones, helps me relax after work. I’ve always supported a change in the law, I grew up doing it illegally, always looking over my shoulder, feeling like a criminal, when all I was doing was relaxing at home smoking some stuff and eating Cheetos.’
The smiling couple came out of the store with their marijuana in tightly sealed bags, as is required by law.
Zachary Miyasato and his wife Denise were first in line at Euphoria Wellness when the doors opened, and had waited for three hours to buy some pot once it became legal
Kyle and Christian Flint were also near the front of the line. ‘Cannabis takes care of the pain, I’m 6ft 8ins, I grew fast. Seriously, it helps with the bones, helps me relax after work,’ said Kyle
Retired gaming worker Dennis Ford, 62, has been smoking pot for 40 years and finally, he says, he doesn’t have to stress about where his next batch comes from.
‘I don’t have to drive to Colorado to get my pot any more,’ he joked.
‘I’ve been smoking pot for about 40 years just because I enjoy it. I’m very supportive of it, it means a tax break for the schools, more revenue for the state fund, we’re excited, I think it’s fun, even if it is only in the home.
‘You’re getting a quality, lab tested product and they give you all the information about what you’re buying. It doesn’t get better than that.’
Dennis said he planned to buy an eighth of an ounce of the DTK variety and some hard candy edibles.
Outside Euphoria – which is neighbored by a Japanese restaurant and a dental practice – a heavy-set armed security guard shepherded the crowd into the well lit shop ten people at a time.
Excited Marketing Director Jim Ferrence said the company had doubled its cultivating team and shop staff to cope with demand since the change in law was announced last November.
He says the modern store, which hands all customers an iPad when they walk in so they can view the menu options, sells flowers, concentrates, edibles and topicals with their house brand Summa selling for $160 an ounce.
‘You can tell by the line outside the kind of numbers we’re looking at and we’ll be busy all weekend,’ he said.
Different strains of marijuana are seen on display at Euphoria Wellness, including Golden Pineapple, OG Kush, and Girl Scout Cookies
‘The overall market will explode, 20-30 times bigger with all the tourists and all the adults here for a reason.’
Jim says he’s always seen Vegas as a ‘better’ version of Amsterdam and says the new law is a natural extension of Sin City’s reputation as party capital of the world.
‘It’s an adult playground so this is a perfect fit, Las Vegas will become the mecca for marijuana,’ he said.
‘They (the Government) have also projected $60million in tax revenue in the first two years which is a huge win.
‘A huge chunk of that goes towards kids’ education which is a huge problem in this state.
‘Overnight it will kill the black market, kill the illegal grow houses and bring it into the open and allow it to be regulated.
‘It will keep it out of the hands of children and make it safer all round.’
To entice people into their store owners Larry Doyle and Joe Lamarca decided to give the first 100 customers one gram of marijuana as a gift.
‘This change in law will make our business profitable, because the margins in medical marijuana aren’t that great,’ said Larry, who started out with a chain of hair salons told DailyMail.com. ‘We’re looking forward to what happens next.’
Euphoria isn’t the only shop cashing in of course.
Bryce Tallitsch hangs up a sign for recreational marijuana at the NuLeaf dispensary in Las Vegas on Friday night
Of the 48 dispensaries in Nevada 15 opened at midnight, including a larger dispensary called Essence on the Las Vegas Strip.
All dispensaries had worked furiously for eight months to prepare for the launch.
Extra stock had to be cultivated and packed on the shelves and security and extra check-out staff drafted in.
Desert Grown Farms hired around 60 extra staff.
‘It would be a good problem to have if I couldn’t meet my demand,’ said CEO Armen Yemenidjian, whose Desert Grown Farms owns the only dispensary selling pot on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Voters approved the new legalisation eight months ago, making this the quickest turnaround from the ballot box to sales in the US.
While anyone who is 21 with a valid ID can snap up an ounce of pot or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates, they’ll have to bring cash.
Virtually no banks will take on accounts from marijuana companies, which means the industry is entirely cash-based.
Industry experts predict Nevada will boast the nation’s biggest market, at least until California plans to begin recreational sales in January.