In 2012, I had the honor of going to The Denver High Times Cannabis Cup. That was the first event where we could legally smoke in the US. When I went to that event I realized we were in for an awakening after Colorado’s “legalization” movement. Other states quickly began to fall. It was my sign to reinvent and reignite the brand Jerome Baker Designs, which I founded in 2002 and which I was stripped of in 2003 per Operation Pipe Dreams—a crackdown on glass pipe, bubbler and bong manufacturers. In other words, a total bummer.
I started doing industry trade shows again as this whole legalization thing kicked up. I started to think about where I wanted to be based. I didn’t want to be based in Oregon, where I was raided. Nevada has long been business friendly. We saw that it was quickly becoming a good place to do cannabis business, too, so we got a building in Vegas.
The most powerful people in cannabis, with the most money and zing and zest and gusto, were stepping up to the place with huge dispensaries, grows, and at-scale operations. I had never seen anything like what I saw happening early on in Vegas. I felt “Sin City” would be a good center for us, where we could be amongst the giants, and I wouldn’t be the lowest hanging fruit for the cops to get me in some bust. Vegas seemed like a town full of gangsters, Rolls royces, and everything else. So, I wasn’t sticking out like a sore thumb here.
I consider Vegas to be the epicenter of cannabis in the US, if not the world, in terms of business scalability, the movement overall, the money flowing and more. It’s been a trip to be a part of the movement here since Day 1 legalization. It’s been a great town for us.
Right away, I applied for a license to manufacture drug paraphernalia in the city limits of Las Vegas. My federal felonies—as a result of my arrest during Operation Pipe Dreams—come from manufacturing drug paraphernalia. Because I was applying for a permit for what I had been arrested for, I got special treatment by the police, and now I have my license within the city limits to manufacture drug paraphernalia. So, no matter what, I feel like we have something to stand on with that. We have gotten incredible treatment from the mayor, the Goodwin family, and just so many people that make a difference in town.
When I was working out of Eugene in the nineties, with a 70 person factory and doing $4 million per year, I had to stay in the shadows. Comparatively, in Vegas today, we are treated like kings, because we have this great addition to the cannabis culture they are building there in the form of artful glass. Vegas gets so many visitors and so many people come for trade shows, who visit our studio, which is like a Willy Wonka bong factory.
The world’s premiere pot leaders are in Las Vegas. The industry is on display at events like MJBizCon, which is the biggest cannabis event in the world. In the fiscal year 2021, The Nevada Department of Taxation The Nevada Department of Taxation and the Cannabis Compliance Board released figures showing $1,003,467,665 of taxable sales in the cannabis industry—an increase of more than $318 million from 2020.
Las Vegas is quickly transforming. It’s not only a destination now for gambling, partying, and entertainment. It’s quickly becoming a world class destination for cannabis users, who can enjoy the 24/7 dispensaries along and just off the strip. Vegas is a whole new world, and it’s only just now beginning its transformation from gambling epicenter of the world to the cannabis epicenter of the world. The best is yet to come.