Coming soon to Las Vegas: dedicated spaces for cannabis consumption.
The state’s Cannabis Control Board has awarded 40 prospective cannabis consumption lounge licenses, following a lottery held last week. The lottery was for 20 of the licenses reserved for independent lounges, including 10 for social equity applicants.
These 20 prospective lounge licensees joined the 20 cannabis shops that applied for a license to open an adjacent lounge. However, existing cannabis retailers were not subject to the lottery. These retailers, along with the applicants selected by lottery on Wednesday, now have 120 days to complete a checklist for final licensure.
A total of 99 applications came in for all three license types, including, regulators said, from states like California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.
Regulators expect the first lounges to be open by summer of 2023. Of the 40 licensees, 15 will be in the City of Las Vegas, and another 21 in unincorporated Clark County, which is the county in which Las Vegas is located.
“We know that all eyes were on Nevada during this 17-month process,” said CCB Executive Director Tyler Klimas in a statement. “While the concept, itself, is not new, this is one of the most robust and ambitious statewide consumption lounge programs to date.”
In mid-2021, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law AB 341 to allow for these lounges.
“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,” Assemblymember Steve Yeager told Cannabis Wire at the time.
Lounge legislation was first introduced by Tick Segerblom, formerly a state senator and now a Commissioner in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.
But for now, there won’t be a lot of commingling of cannabis smoking and vaping with the longstanding casinos and cocktails culture for which the state – or at least Las Vegas – is known.
Regulations prohibit lounges from selling or allowing the use of “all alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine products.” Lounges also cannot be within 1,500 feet of an “establishment that holds a nonrestricted gaming license” in a county with a population of 100,000 or more.
The regulations aim to address everything from impaired driving to smoke inhalation concerns.
The rules state that lounges, for example, “shall adopt practices that discourage impaired driving, with consideration of examples, including but not limited to as a 24 hour no tow policy and/or a potential partnership with ride share to offer discounted rides both to and from the premises to consumers.”
And while lounges can have outdoor areas, as long as consumption isn’t visible to passersby, all “indoor cannabis smoking or inhalation must be confined to a designated smoking room” that needs to be “separated from the rest of the cannabis consumption lounge by solid partitions or glass without openings other than doors or pass-through service windows.”
At the independent lounges, which aren’t retail license holders, the cannabis must be supplied by a licensed retail shop. There is a limit to how much cannabis a consumer can purchase at a lounge, and they cannot leave with products they haven’t finished. For example, if a consumer wants edibles, they cannot exceed 10 milligrams of THC. And, lounges “must offer low dose options of cannabis products containing no more than 2mg THC.”
Some jurisdictions have opted out of allowing lounges, like Carson City and the City of Henderson.
It remains to be seen whether these lounges become a tourist attraction, or if it simply solves the problem of tourists purchasing cannabis with no legal place to consume it, unless, for example, they are staying in a cannabis-friendly Airbnb.
One entity in particular is going all in on tourists: Planet 13. The company announced on Monday that its subsidiary MM Development Company, Inc. was among the entities approved.
“The Planet 13 Entertainment Complex will be the first of its kind space where consumers can watch products being made, purchase and consume all under one roof. This luxurious, tourist friendly lounge, close to the Las Vegas Strip is expected to elevate the already incredible Planet 13 experience,” the company announced.