Lake Tahoe’s first — and only — marijuana dispensary opens to huge crowds |

Lake Tahoe’s first — and only — marijuana dispensary opens to huge crowds

Justin Scacco
One of Lake Tahoe’s first recreational marijuana customers Marseille Morillo is shown some of NuLeaf’s selection of products by an employee.
Justin Scacco / Sierra Sun |

History was made on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore on Saturday, when NuLeaf Tahoe opened its doors to recreational marijuana customers, becoming the first dispensary on the lake to sell marijuana to anyone 21 years and older.

Customers began showing up at 9 a.m. for the store’s 11 a.m. opening, and by the time NuLeaf owners cut the ribbon, signifying the official start of recreation sales, the line had swelled around the corner of the business and south from Tahoe Boulevard toward Enterprise Street.

The line outside the store would remain around the building for several hours after the store’s opening, and according to information from NuLeaf, the dispensary served more than 2,000 customers over the weekend.

“It’s a historic day,” NuLeaf Co-Owner Sean Luse said. “Finally prohibition ending on Lake Tahoe, legal marijuana for all adults 21+. It’s going to be huge. People are very excited and they’ve waited a long time for this.”

Recreational marijuana sales began in Washoe County on July 1, with four stores in Reno receiving licenses from the city to start selling.

The rest of unincorporated Washoe County, which includes Incline Village, had to wait for the county to amend its business licenses to include a permitting system for recreational marijuana.

“It was tough to have to wait, particularly for all the residents and customers,” Luse said. “They kept thinking it was legal and kept showing up. It was tough, but we’re glad the day is finally here.”

Once the county’s three dispensaries (two in Sun Valley) in unincorporated Washoe County, received the go-ahead to begin selling, the owners of NuLeaf rolled out the red carpet for its first recreational customers, along with live music, swag and food.

Mike Schwartz, a resident of Incline Village for the last 34 years, made history as Tahoe’s first recreational customer, having showed up two hours before the store opening.

“I can remember when, if you were pulled over and you had a seed in your car you could be arrested,” said Schwartz. “Times have changed, especially here in Incline. It’s a shocker for a lot of people, but on the other hand it’s a sign of the times.”

Schwartz said it was his first time entering a marijuana dispensary, and while he had some products in mind like a vaporizer pen, he simply wanted to experience walking into a store to buy legal marijuana.

“It was amazing,” Marseille Morillo, of Incline Village, said of her experience in the store. “I used to go to Reno, to the dispensary there, but this is so much nicer. A lot more products, more swag, it’s really sick to be a part of this — to be part of history. I love that I can walk here and get my marijuana that I need.”

From flower, pre-rolled joints, edibles and concentrates, NuLeaf has a wide selection of marijuana products containing varying percentages of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the principal psychoactive compound in marijuana; as well as cannabidiol (CBD) products, which according to the store, provide several medical benefits, but without the “high” producing, psychoactive properties of THC.

“There’s a lot of options to use marijuana now without having to smoke it, so smoking is not a requirement,” said Luse. “For someone that’s new to this, I’d say, ‘Start low and go slow. Take a small dose, don’t do too much and you’ll have a great time.’”

With NuLeaf being the only place along the lake’s Nevada shoreline to legally sell marijuana, Luse said he expects to be Tahoe’s only recreational dispensary for about a year, and that while California voters approved of recreational use last November, he doesn’t expect the state to OK recreational sales until next year.

“It seems like it’s going to be a while before they have authorization,” said Luse. “I wouldn’t expect for it to happen on the California side until next summer. We’ll be the only dispensary on Lake Tahoe for probably the better part of a year.”

And while being the only game along Lake Tahoe, means there’ll likely be time spent waiting in line during weekend’s and when other events bring large crowds to the North Shore, Luse said existing medical customers will still be able to get marijuana quickly, and will be given preferential treatment in terms of the wait.

NuLeaf Tahoe is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Buying legal marijuana here in Lake Tahoe is easy,” said Luse. “It’s quick, it’s safe, it’s simple … any adult, 21+, is welcome.”

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