July 1, 2021, marked four years since Nevada launched its first adult-use cannabis sales, and the market has certainly seen its fair share of rapid growth and regulatory changes during that time, not to mention the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
From July 2017 to June 2018, the state saw $529,851,245 in taxable medical and adult-use cannabis sales, a figure that has steadily increased to $719,216,651 during the current fiscal year, which includes sales data from July 2020 to March 2021, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.
Flexibility is the name of the game for cannabis operators looking to cash in on this rapidly growing market, according to Layke Martin, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association (NDA).
“I think this industry is ever-changing, and our owners know that and are prepared for that,” Martin told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “They’re flexible and ready to pivot.”
The NDA launched roughly five years ago as an advocacy and trade association for the retail segment of the market but has recently expanded to include cannabis cultivators and distributors.
Nevada currently has 86 operational dispensaries, and the industry employs approximately 10,000 people, Martin said.Reflecting on Lessons Learned
The Source pivoted to the adult-use market quickly, launching its first recreational sales at its Sahara location on July 1, 2017. The company’s Henderson store began serving the adult-use marketplace much later, in October 2017, due to delays in the rollout of local regulations, according to Brandon Wiegand, The Source’s chief commercial officer.
“We saw an immediate impact,” Wiegand said. “Going from medical to recreational, it was about a five-times increase in business. Then, it’s ebbed and flowed.”
When the first adult-use sales launched in 2017, The Source had roughly 50 employees, a number that has since grown to more than 260. The company also won three new retail licenses when the state opened up another licensing round in 2018, and has opened three new stores in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Reno.
In the past four years, The Source has adjusted its operations to accommodate the sharp increase in customers, and part of these adjustments include more robust consumer education.
“With recreational, there’s a much bigger knowledge gap,” Wiegand said. “Customers are coming in that either haven’t consumed cannabis in many, many years or may have never consumed cannabis, and so we focus on education, knowledge, [and] creating an environment that helps awareness and understanding of the product, the different methods of consumption [and] the effects of that consumption. … Our big focus as a team is, how do we dispel the myths and stereotypes around the product, and how do we help people find the experience they’re looking for?”
Wiegand said The Source has a “pretty liberal sample policy,” where dispensary employees are encouraged to try the products to help inform their discussions with customers.
“We encourage them to try and experience the product themselves so that they can talk about it from a first-person point of view,” he said.