The cousins from New Jersey shared a studio apartment in downtown Las Vegas as they worked to make their mark in the marijuana industry. There was no wall separating where Jacob Silverstein slept on a small bed and where Zachary LoBello lay on a futon.
One night earlier this year, while eating downtown with a potential client, the two realized they had only $12 to their names before a deposit was set to be made the next morning. Instead of ordering off the menu like the client, the two split a small basket of $7.99 chicken wings, which left enough for a tip after tax.
“We just told them we weren’t that hungry,” LoBello said. “There were a lot of situations where we had to compromise.”
The sacrifices have worked.
Silverstein, 28, and LoBello, 26, have staked their claim to Nevada’s green rush as two of its youngest pot entrepreneurs. The founders of Hunter & Leaf, they have taken over a niche market they essentially developed themselves — prerolled marijuana blunts, with pot packed into rolled hemp instead of traditional tobacco paper. Their products, which come in six different strains, are sold in more than a dozen valley dispensaries, including the recently opened Planet 13 Superstore.
Each blunt is packed in a glass tube with a cork stopper, though plans are to offer packs soon. Prices range from $18 to $29.
“We did a bunch of research because we wanted to be innovative, and it led us to develop the market for a premium product,” Silverstein said.
The partnership started during Thanksgiving two years ago when the cousins, who were visiting in their hometown of Toms River, N.J., decided to pursue an independent marijuana business together. Silverstein was working for Las Vegas-based Silver State Wellness —