After four years of setbacks, cannabis consumption lounges could finally be making their way to Nevada.
As previously reported by Cannabis Dispensary, consumption lounges showed promise as part of a Las Vegas ordinance back in 2017 and again in 2019, but due to setbacks and political debates from the rival gaming industry, the legislation never became a reality.
Now, the measure has a third chance at passing, and this time might be the charm.
Assembly Bill 341 cleared the lower chamber in a 29-12 vote on May 27 and passed the Senate in a 17-12 vote on May 31. The legislation now sits on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk, awaiting his signature.
The bill would provide the licensing and regulatory framework for cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada, paving the way for an unlimited number of lounges to open across the state.
Assemblyman Steve Yeager, the sponsor of the bill, told 3 News that there would be two models for the consumption lounges once the bill becomes a law (Sisolak is expected to sign the legislation, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.)
One model is designed for already existing dispensaries, stating that if the dispensary has the space to put a lounge adjacent to it, it is permitted to do so; however, dispensary operators can only have one lounge, no matter how many dispensary locations there are.
The second model is for independent consumption lounges and states that independent businesses can apply to open up a lounge to sell single-use cannabis products, the news outlet reported.
Yeager also said that there would be separate licenses for social equity applicants. These licenses will help increase diversity and create opportunities for individuals to enter the competitive industry, Nevada Dispensary Association Executive Director Layke Martin told 3News.
The legislation would also provide cannabis consumers with something that they have been waiting a long time for; a safe and legal place to consume cannabis outside of their homes, which was a significant reason in the push for consumption lounges to be legalized, Martin told 3 News.
Additionally, Nevada attracts many tourists each year, with nearly 40 million visiting Las Vegas annually (before the COVID-19 pandemic). The consumption lounges would essentially give tourists the option of consuming cannabis in a safe and legal place, rather than illegally in public or a hotel room, the news outlet reported.
In addition to consumers, Nevada cannabis companies have also been patiently waiting for consumption lounges to make their way to the state.
Bob Groesbeck, co-CEO of Planet 13, a vertically integrated cannabis company in Nevada, said the process to secure lounges in the state has been “long and difficult.”
“We are delighted that the Legislature recognized the critical need for these types of facilities that will provide tourists with the ability to legally use cannabis products in safe, regulated facilities like Planet 13,” Groesbeck said. “Our goal is simple: provide our customers with exceptional cannabis products in a world-class lounge/club setting.”
If Sisolak signs the bill into law, cities and lounges will begin to develop ordinances. The application to receive a license to operate a cannabis consumption lounge is expected to open in January or February 2022, with lounges likely opening mid-next year.