It’s a good time to be Dave Kallas. As owner of the Apothecarium cannabis dispensary, he’s riding a wave of momentum for the marijuana industry. It’s a long journey away from his old job as a Las Vegas police officer.
“I worked for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for 30 years,” Kallas says of a career that began in 1979. “Ten and a half years was as a patrol officer averaging almost 300 arrests a year. A lot of that was for the sale of a controlled substance, including marijuana.”
Things changed in his life when a knee injury turned out to be a case of disseminated Valley Fever, a fungal condition that was incurable. To cope with the pain, he was prescribed opioids, the only option legally available. “I didn’t like the use of opioids,” Kallas says. “I could tell why people would overdose and become addicted to it. … It’s because your tolerance level is built up.” He later found marijuana to be a “natural and nonaddictive” alternative to effectively treat the pain.
By the time the Nevada legislature cleared the legal path for cannabis dispensaries in 2013, Kallas had retired from the force and was working for Findlay Toyota. He pitched his boss, the late Rich Abajian, on opening one themselves. The two did their research, a license was secured and they went into business with the Apothecarium, a dispensary and production facility in San Francisco that was ready to open a second location in Las Vegas. It welcomed its first customers in early 2016, and with Nevada voters recently legalizing the recreational use of weed, sales are only going to get better. “We have to wait for the legislature to figure it out,” Kallas says. But he believes the regulations will go into effect sooner rather than later to prevent the black market from taking advantage of the new environment.
So does Kallas support marijuana for recreational use as much as medical use?
“On a personal level, I support it because that’s what the voters said they wanted to do,” he says before taking a moment to recall his time as a police officer. “I would much rather deal with somebody who’s ingested marijuana than somebody who’s ingested alcohol.”