Will cannabis lounges draw even more tourists to Las Vegas and Reno than the millions who visit annually?
The answer is yes, according to those who have been advocating for these new spaces since the state’s residents voted to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2016. Lounge legislation was first introduced by then-Senator Tick Segerblom, now the Commissioner of Clark County, though the idea failed to gain enough support for passage.
That is, until now. The latest lounge bill, AB 341, sponsored by Assemblymember Steve Yeager and signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, will create two types of spaces: within existing cannabis retail shops, and standalone. The latter group would have to obtain cannabis from existing shops, and neither lounge type will be allowed to serve alcohol.
Legalization in Nevada has created an issue for some tourists. While cannabis is legal to purchase, consume, and possess, many hotels still don’t allow cannabis consumption, especially smoking.
“I brought this legislation forward to ensure that Nevada’s tourists and locals alike have a legal place to consume cannabis in the state, as well as to promote new business opportunities and diversity in the industry,” Yeager told Cannabis Wire.
“I am thrilled that the legislation passed both houses of the Legislature with bipartisan support and am thankful for all who worked so hard on it over the last year or so.”
The bill also proposes that equity applicants, defined as someone who “has been adversely affected by previous laws that criminalized activity relating to cannabis,” get at least 10 of the first 20 standalone lounge licenses.
The lounges will be regulated by the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board, which completed a study in January on how best to regulate this new business type, in part by looking at other states that have done so. There was little to pull from, as only a few of the now 18 states that have passed laws to legalize and regulate cannabis use and sales for adults also allow for public consumption spaces, including Alaska, Colorado, and, soon, New York.
Planet 13, one of the largest and most well-known cannabis shops in Las Vegas, celebrated lawmakers’ passage of AB 341. While Las Vegas moved to allow for lounges in 2019, the program was limited and there was little uptake.
“We are thrilled that after the long wait, Nevada will finally be home to consumption lounges. We’ve long believed that tourists needed a safe, legal, and enjoyable place to consume cannabis and have been planning for a consumption lounge at the SuperStore since the bill was originally proposed two years ago,” Bob Groesbeck, co-CEO of Planet 13, said in a statement.