The Las Vegas City Council has become the first in Nevada to give approval for marijuana consumption lounges. Marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, but until now, could only be consumed in private homes. The council’s measure allows public consumption in approved and permitted locations, but don’t expect to see any of the lounges pop up in Sin City’s casinos.
The consumption lounges are open to anyone 21 years old or older. Patrons will need to bring their own goods, as the venues cannot sell marijuana—only paraphernalia—and alcohol will be off-limits. According to the measure, though, the facilities cannot be offered within 1,000 feet of schools and casinos, or within 300 feet from certain institutions such as churches.
Nevada has not addressed legislation to authorize consumption lounges, but previous legal opinion has stated that they are allowed under the current laws. The city council passed the measure by a vote of 4-1, allowing businesses to start applying for the lounges everywhere within the city, except for the Las Vegas Strip. That portion of the gambling hub is in an unincorporated portion of Clark County.
Nevada, especially Las Vegas, runs on tourism. The state legalized marijuana use, but, until now, there has been nowhere for tourists to consume legally unless they hooked up with a local resident and visited their home. Even Governor Steve Sisolak recognizes the fallacy of the state’s cannabis program, stating, “Tourists visiting Las Vegas are permitted to purchase marijuana, but they can only consume the drug in private residences—not casino resort hotel rooms. These are issues we need to step up and address.”
The lounges will most likely help to expand Las Vegas and attract new demographics. The city is home to one of the largest dispensaries (and the only marijuana entertainment center) in the world, Planet 13, which is drawing tourists wanting to visit the unique marijuana store.
The City Council has updated two municipal codes, Titles 6 and 19, to authorize the issuance of permits and to create “a business license category and land use regulations for social use venues (marijuana).” Annual permits cost $5,000 and the lounges are going to have to adhere to a strict code of requirements in order to operate. However, it’s a sign of the changing times and move that has been expected for decades.