Las Vegas Bets on Cannabis Cup, Loses to the House!


Las Vegas is one of the most action-packed cities in the western region.  Known as ‘sin city’ for being a place where anything goes, Las Vegas is the premier traveling destination for young adults.  Young bros/gals from all across the country get into their car to drive out to Vegas for a fun-filled adventure full of mischief.  The one thing that you can always count on is that whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Gambling, booze, and strippers fill the entertainment features that is the Las Vegas strip (Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal in some areas!).  It’s the place where you can have a martini, play some blackjack with other players, and expect to find a hooker who will give you that ‘happy ending’ to an amazing night.  As the city grows each year, the search for better entertainment is essential for attracting more tourists.  In what is known as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas is an adult playground that replaces juice boxes with fruity alcoholic drinks.  Other than booze, Las Vegas welcomed cannabis into their sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll atmosphere with their first High Times Cannabis Cup.

Nevada legalized recreational cannabis use during the presidential elections on November 2016.  With legalized cannabis underway, Las Vegas decided to hold their first Cannabis Cup this year on March 4th-5th.  Not only was this the first High Times Cannabis Cup event on Las Vegas, but it was their first event on Indian reservation land.  This would set the stage for whether or not the cannabis community would be socially accepted in a city economically fueled by gambling, alcohol, and prostitutes.

So how did the entertainment capital city of Nevada fare with the Cannabis Cup event?  Well… not so good.  Instead of hitting the jackpot, Las Vegas lost money from the house…the federal house, that is!

A few weeks before the High Times Cannabis Cup took place, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden sent a letter from the federal attorney’s office in Nevada.  The letter threatened to take legal actions if the federal laws against cannabis weren’t followed.  If the festival were to continue, then it would have to follow the strict federal guidelines or else.  Due to Bogden’s letter, cannabis had to be taken out of the High Times Cannabis Cup.

For the first time ever, the Cannabis Cup featured edibles without cannabis as an ingredient.  Medicated cookies became just regular cookies and tropical lotions had to be THC-free.  There were also no sampling items at the festival; instead of voting for the winners in various categories, medicinal patients were advised to purchase legal products at various Las Vegas dispensaries.  Patients could vote for the best cannabis products through iPads within the High Times festival booth.

With these new rules into place, various vendors dropped out of the event because they couldn’t offer their cannabis products.  Some vendors, like Honey Pot Bear of Los Angeles, California, decided to stay at the event to show support for cannabis legalization in Nevada.  That’s not to say that there were no cannabis products available to sample – hundreds of attendees went to take some sample shatter products from Gorilla Wax’s vendor.  For a cannabis event in the city of sin, the High Times Cannabis Cup seemed very mild compared to what goes on at the Las Vegas Strip every night.

Mother nature caused the event to be cancelled on Sunday due to high winds, but that cancellation wasn’t as nearly as destructive as Bogden’s letter that came out on February.  Festivalgoers that already bought their tickets for Sunday would be able to use them for the SoCal Cannabis Cup on April 21st-23rd in San Bernardino (smart PR move there!).  Bogden’s letter shooed away eager companies from showcasing their unique products/services within the cannabis industry.  Who knows what this could hold for the future of cannabis events in Las Vegas.

This was a BAD PR nightmare for the cannabis industry!  Not only was this the first High Times Cannabis Cup in Las Vegas, but it was the first to be held on an Indian reservation land.  It was Las Vegas’s chance to prove that cannabis had a place with their partying culture that is fueled by gambling, alcohol, and prostitutes.  Since their first event did not fare well, the future of other cannabis festival seems bleak for the city of Las Vegas.

It seemed absolutely preposterous to hold a High Times Cannabis Cup festival without featuring cannabis products.  That’s like holding a craft beer festival showcasing various microbrewery companies, but without the alcohol to drink!  Hundreds of attendees flocked to the Nevada desert to the High Times Cannabis Cup for the flowers, edibles, tropical lotions, wax, oils, and other cannabis-related products.  Cannabis companies may stray away from doing businesses in Las Vegas and take their business elsewhere (like cities in California or Oregon!).

If I was running a cannabis company, I would’ve dropped out of the event myself.  To set up my agenda for the event only to later find out that I couldn’t showcase my sample products to potential customers would be devastating for me.  It would be a waste of time and I would move my business to a more 4/20-friendlier destination like Colorado or California.  I may be burning a bridge with the Las Vegas community, but my loyalty to my customers is more important for running the business.

In the end, maybe the city of sin isn’t ready for the wild ways of pot.  Since Las Vegas didn’t hit the jackpot on their first event, they have some major work to do in order to live up to their reputation as the entertainment capital.  California’s SoCal Cannabis Cup is happening next month, so this is their chance to step up to the plate and generate some good business for the cannabis industry.  Now is the time to fight against the anti-cannabis enemies and show Americans a world where cannabis is socially acceptable in the land of the free.

Despite Las Vegas’s reputation, the High Times Cannabis Cup PR nightmare is surely something that WON’T stay in Vegas!

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