Las Vegas tourists keep getting tricked by this ‘total scam’

las vegas weed scam

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The Plug looks like just another legal weed store: The front door is covered in big green pot leaves, a sign shows pipes filled with marijuana, and the shelves are filled with what appear to be marijuana products.

But the store’s terrible 1.2 star rating on Google Maps is a giveaway that this shop near the front doors of Planet Hollywood isn’t quite what it seems. The Plug is one of a handful of hemp stores on the Vegas Strip that are apparently tricking tourists into buying cannabis products that will never get them high.

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Stores like the Plug, which did not return an SFGATE request for comment, only sell hemp, a non-intoxicating version of cannabis that lacks THC, the marijuana compound that gets people high. Marijuana is fully legal in Nevada, but the stores’ location on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip is a giveaway that they don’t sell the real stuff: Legal weed stores can’t be open within 1,500 feet of a casino.

las vegas weed scam
These joints look like marijuana but they’re actually hemp joints that won’t get you high. Photo: Jackie X / Yelp

When customers leave and try to smoke the hemp products, they inevitably feel deep disappointment instead of an enjoyable cannabis high.

“TRASH! This is not weed. This place is a con job preying on tourists,” wrote Charlie Garoupa in a review a month ago of Rey Las Vegas, a hemp store near the Planet Hollywood casino that currently has a 1.3 star rating on Google Maps. The store’s manager, Katelyn Couturier, declined to comment when reached by SFGATE, saying the store was slated to close this week because of nearby development. Other stores have been called the “biggest rip off in Vegas” and an “absolute waste of money. Total scam.” One reviewer said that “it should be illegal to do what they do.”

The city tried to crack down on the hemp dispensaries in June of last year, passing a law that requires the stores have signs saying they’re not licensed to sell cannabis and requiring products to be labeled with THC potencies. The city also published a blog post last year that warned people to not be tricked by the “fake” dispensaries that only sell hemp products, not cannabis.

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But the city is not planning on taking any more action and, because most of the Strip is actually outside of city limits in Clark County, the stores are outside of Las Vegas’ jurisdiction, according to city spokesperson Jace Radke. Erik Pappa, a spokesperson for Clark County, said the county “proactively checks hemp stores for compliance and conducts investigations when complaints are received.” Pappa asked the public to submit complaints to their tip line.

The city’s newly required signage doesn’t seem to have solved the problem. Reddit is filled with stories of people getting ripped off this year, and the terrible Google reviews of the shops continue. Last week, the Plug received another 1-star review, with Vladimir Klimok warning others, “This place is a scam people watch out.”