Gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931, with the Sal Sagev Hotel becoming the state's first legal casino. Fast forward 82 years, and quite a bit has changed, not just in Las Vegas, but across the state.
In the home of Sin City, it's hard to imagine being the "first" to do anything. But last weekend, Robert Calkin and the California-based Cannabis Career Institute did just that, when they hosted nearly 70 students for Nevada's first-ever medical marijuana school.
Simply called "The Budtender School", the one day group course was held in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Vegas. For $249 each, students were promised expert advice and instruction from industry veterans, backed by video, textbook, and hands-on learning experiences.
Though only a one day course, students covered almost all imaginable topics that can arise when opening a marijuana dispensary. The "Compliance" section of the course reads like a semester-long college course syllabus. From creating a business plan, to filing all necessary paperwork, to local laws and regulations, to real estate, insurances, and website development - and that's just the beginning.
A marketing course follows, with tips on branding and advertising, patient retention and referrals, and even the pro's and cons of marijuana vending machines. Students are then given access to a top regional criminal law attorney, who will answer any questions they may have, and offer interpretations on recent rulings. A three hour step-by-step growing demonstration comes next, followed by a cooking class aimed to discuss tinctures, concentrates, oils, and candies by a "top cannabis industry chef". The accompanying textbook is not included or required, but is recommended, and available for an additional cost of $65.
Having already blazed a trail across the country with their innovative new teaching method, the Cannabis Career Institute boasts over 1500 'alumi', many of whom - they say - have gone on to successful careers in the cannabis industry. Past students are encouraged to re-attend future seminars at no cost, and guests of former students can get 50% off of their "tuition" fee.
Calkin, founder of CCI, tempts would-be entrepreneurs, telling them, "It's quite a challenge to open a dispensary that meets all the legal criteria, but it'll be pretty lucrative for whoever has the skills."
As for his latest "campus" location, Calkin is optimistic for the future of weed in the Silver State.
"It's coming," Calkin told the Las Vegas Sun. "Nevada has always been cutting-edge socially and politically. It was ahead of other states on gambling and prostitution, and (marijuana) is a lot less problematic. Nevada appears to be on the cusp of approving it."
With cannabis-related bills gaining support in the State Senate ranging from dispensary regulation and zoning, to decriminalization, what's happening in Nevada is a pretty accurate reflection of what is happening in cities and states across the country. The most recent bill, S.B. 374, would allow up to 50 entrepreneurs to open pot shops if passed, assuming they have a good business plan and $150,000 in liquid assets.
The Cannabis Career Institute has already scheduled their 2nd Nevada-based course on the 1st of June, this time to be held right in the heart of Las Vegas. But what happens that day in Vegas, will not stay in Vegas, as CCI is taking their show on the road to Seattle, and an all-day seminar and job fair in New Jersey - all before the end of June.
So grab a #2 pencil and a pack of papers, class is in sesh.