Article and Photos By: R.J. Villa
The Bluebird Coffee Shop opened its doors to Las Vegas on August 25, 2010, and at that time, the possibilities for the medical marijuana patient-friendly cafÃ© appeared to be extremely promising and forward thinking for Nevada. Mention the words marijuana and coffee shop, and plenty of people will have visions (or flashbacks) of hazy visits to Amsterdam. This Las Vegas, Nevada coffee shop is a far cry from the tourist laden cafÃ©s of Holland, and instead, it has become one of the first steps for the medical marijuana community in the state.
The Bluebird Coffee Shop opened with a bold statement to the medical marijuana community in Las Vegas. They were allowing Nevada MMJ patients to medicate on site in a private, club lounge area. However, since the turn of the New Year, they have stopped allowing patients from medicating on site. â€œWe actually stopped the use of medicine on site back in December,â€ says Chris, a Bluebird Coffee Shop employee. â€œWe feel weâ€™ve created enough buzz for the Nevada community to know who we are as far as medical marijuana patients go. We are now focusing more on the food and beverage side of our business. Overall, that is what keeps us operating. When we were offering the program to medicate on site, we didnâ€™t have enough members signing up. At that time, we were not allowing non-medical marijuana patients to enter the room. Now, weâ€™re allocating any and everyone the benefit of using our lounge.â€
When the Bluebird Coffee Shop was divided into the cafÃ© area and the smoking lounge, access to the smoking area was extremely limited to Nevada MMJ patients registered with the club. Members of the club sign a waiver and are held responsible for all the rules and regulations they must adhere to in order to gain access to the lounge area. Members are required to travel to and from the club safely; via mass transportation, a designated driver, or using a taxi voucher (issued to members). Members permitted access to the smoking lounge are exposed to a secure area where they enter a relaxed environment equipped with a flat-screen television, smoking utensils, and vaporizers. The price of membership is listed as $10 per visit, $100 per month, or $1000 for an annual membership. However, the Bluebird Coffee Shop has transitioned away from being a place where patients can medicate.
â€œHolding vaporizers and such items for patients to use is a little risky. We have to study the law to see what is legal and what is not. At the moment, we are making sure ALL of our staff members have a license to consult medical marijuana patients on products such as bongs, vaporizers, etc. As of now, we hope Nevada becomes a little more relaxed on the law regarding medical marijuana patients.â€
The opening of the first medical marijuana-friendly coffee shop in Las Vegas last year has shown us the progression and transformation that Nevada is experiencing since becoming a medical marijuana state. However, the closing of the smoking lounge still shows us that the fight for more rights for MMJ patients in Nevada continues. Progression is only a matter of time. After all, this is the state where prostitution is legal in certain countiesâ€¦right?
The Bluebird still offers a venue where these individuals can gather information on the top quality medicinal products they desire. While the smoking lounge is no longer available as a place for patients to medicate, the Bluebird Coffee Shop is still an environment where MMJ patients can network, converse and discuss their conditions and medication; itâ€™s a venue that understands the community. The Bluebird still provides its patrons with a legal, safe and secure environment for acquiring knowledge of Nevadaâ€™s MMJ patients and their caregivers. Bluebird is a gathering place where people can relax with like-minded souls and find the proper resources pertaining to medical marijuana and the compassionate caregiving they are looking for. The Bluebird believes in the education of its patrons with emphasis on legal and healthy use of medical marijuana.
â€œI identified a need in town last December (2009) that there was a growing movement in the medical marijuana community,â€ states Larry, Bluebird Coffee Shop co-owner. â€œI think the community has been demonized in the press and in society. Itâ€™s a legitimate movement for legitimate people that have legitimate problems.â€ When medicating was allowed on site last year, the Bluebird Coffee Shop gave cardholders â€œan outside place to come and medicate themselves in a safe environment,â€ added Bluebird Coffee Shop co-owner Chris Lexis. At the time, the Bluebird Coffee Shop was divided into two sections. The coffee shop was open to the general public and had the same feel as any other coffee shop; standard cafÃ© drinks with food options. â€œThe place has a nice friendly, laid back atmosphere with no hint of the tackiness you might find at a head shop,â€ said Bluebird Coffee Shop patron Jen F. â€œThe smoking lounge is closed off from the rest of the cafÃ©, so there is no cross ventilation,â€ she continued to describe, which was the feel of the Bluebird Coffee Shop when members still had the ability to medicate on site. â€œThe owners were so super nice, friendly and very welcoming. I think that theyâ€™re doing a good service for the legit side of the medical marijuana community. Plus, I always love a place that has a few vegan options.â€
The Bluebird started out serving coffee, tea, and smoothies with a light selection of cereal, fruit, sandwiches, soups and salads. Since the opening of the grill, they have begun to expand their menu a little bit more. â€œThe business has been picking up since we changed the face of our company and opened the grill,â€ reveals Chris, a Bluebird employee. â€œHamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, sausages, etcâ€¦at the moment, weâ€™re still adding new items to the menu. Our hot beverage menu has grown a lot since our opening.â€ The co-owners, Larry and Chris Lexis, are both cardholders dedicated to educating and helping their patients. They can help instruct patients on various methods of consuming medication, operating a vaporizer, or even coach joint rolling. They do not issue cards nor do they vend any marijuana. â€œWe are abiding by the laws of the state of Nevada to the T,â€ Larry adds.
Bluebird brings an array of medical marijuana resources to Southern Nevada patients and their doctors. They can assist in helping patients locate their specific medicines and strains. The Compassion Club at The Bluebird continues to meet with open sessions for mental health care groups. They put together support groups for cancer patients and survivors, as well as programs designed for individuals with Crohnâ€™s Disease, MS, IBS, Celiac, and chronic pain to name a few. Lectures and seminars focus on their club membersâ€™ need to obtain the latest up-to-date information on the medical marijuana movement. Nevada MMJ patients can find information on a variety of topics including: compassionate caregiving, medical marijuana prescriptions and physician referrals, as well as cannabis products and services. â€œWhat the Bluebird Coffee Shop is doing is really good,â€ says Bluebird patron Yutchadol Saennok. â€œWe need more places like this to educate us on medical marijuana. To me, Las Vegas is lacking the knowledge on this topic.â€Â â€œIâ€™ve visited the Bluebird and I can tell you that everyone there is dedicated to providing our growing cannabis community with a venue to gather, share and network,â€ states another Bluebird patron Jay Trujillo.
Unfortunately, storefront marijuana dispensaries are not recognized under Nevada law, and it is illegal to sell medical marijuana in Nevada.Â If you are a medical marijuana patient or caregiver in Nevada, you must grow your own marijuana. The dispensaries require donations rather than compensation in return for marijuana. However, this feature of the Bluebird Coffee Shop is merely a glimpse into the progress that Nevada is experiencing for the medical marijuana patient. When visiting Nevada and Las Vegas as a California MMJ patient, we are still asked to be discrete and limit medicating to behind closed doors at private locations such as a residence or your hotel room.
Please keep in mind that under NRS 453A, only a person with a qualifying debilitating medical condition who has obtained a valid Nevada Medical Marijuana Program card is exempt from criminal laws of the state for engaging in the medical use of marijuana as justified by the symptoms or effects of the personâ€™s debilitating medical condition.
At this time, the NMMP is not aware of any â€œreciprocityâ€ agreements with any other states to honor the Nevada law. This includes even those states that have medical marijuana laws of their own, such as California or Washington; medical marijuana programs vary by state. For more information on Nevadaâ€™s Medical Marijuana Patient Laws, you may want to contact the Nevada State Health Division or you can visit their website at:Â www.health.nv.gov.
Bluebird Coffee Shop
2025 Paradise Rd
Las Vegas, Nevada 89104
Hours of Operation
10:00 AM â€“ 8:00 PM Daily