There was, as expected, a thin scent of weed in Roger Volodarsky's 28th-floor Mirage hotel suite as the Puffco CEO and founder demonstrated his latest product.
It was 11:30 PM the night before CES opened, and seven attendees gathered in the living room overlooking the Vegas strip. A welcoming, tattooed man with a groomed beard and shaved head, Volodarsky was showing off the Puffco Peak, a smart dabbing rig for consuming cannabis concentrates that he'd presented at the Pepcom media event just hours earlier. Away from the mainstream events around CES, he could show how it truly works.
After all, this is the first CES since marijuana was legalized in the state of Nevada last year, and it's available for purchase all over Las Vegas. The irony is that in Sin City, you are prohibited from consuming cannabis products anywhere but in a private residence, including hotels, parks and even dispensaries.
In practice, vaporized cannabis and edibles are easy to find and easier to consume with little residual smell (there was no hint of weed vapor in the Mirage's hallway on Monday). But technically, a combination of state law and hotel policy means that Vegas' visitors -- of which there were 42.2 million in 2017 -- lack almost anywhere to take advantage of legal cannabis.
It also means that the few cannabusinesses at this year's CES are also hamstrung in their ability to demonstrate their products, even as there's a gold rush of demand that led to cannabis startups receiving more than $600 million in equity funding last year. Hence Puffco's after-hours session at the Mirage.
"We think that if you want to make an omelet you've got to crack a few eggs, and so that's why we did this in here," said the Brooklyn-based Volodarsky, on using his suite for demos. "For us it's just the risk we take, and if they want to kick us out for it I'm OK with that."