The City Council of Las Vegas has approved marijuana consumption lounges, making it the first city in the state of Nevada to allow venues of this kind. This also means Las Vegas is now among the few cities in the United States to allow legal weed lounges.
The City Council passed a resolution to legalize cannabis consumption lounges with a 4-1 vote. Mayor Carolyn Goodman abstained, citing conflict of interest as she has previously said that a family member is working in the industry.
Under the new law, these businesses will be strictly regulated. These lounges will be governed by guidelines that include:
- Only adults who are at least 21 years old will be permitted to enter these lounges.
- Lounges cannot provide or sell any actual cannabis products. Instead, patrons need to bring their own buds.
- Lounges can, however, sell marijuana paraphernalia.
- Weed consumption locations must be at least 1,000 feet away from casinos and schools. They also have to be at least 300 feet from churches and other protected institutions.
- All consumption lounges have to meet strict requirements for fire safety, odor control, sanitation, security, and air quality.
- Patrons who are in the act of consuming weed inside these lounges must not be visible to the public.
The state will award licenses to open a weed consumption lounge only to businesses that are already permitted to operate a cannabis dispensary.
While this appears to contradict the guideline pertaining to lounges not being allowed to sell cannabis products, this is not really the case. It is because weed consumption lounges are required to have a separate location from the dispensary or retail space itself. It can be adjacent to the store, but not inside.
Business owners are required to apply to the city for a special use permit in order to open a lounge. This permit comes with a $5,000 annual fee.
As of now, there are 12 legit cannabis dispensaries operating in Las Vegas. It is still not clear how many of them will apply for consumption lounge permit.
Nevada officially legalized recreational cannabis in January 2017 after a successful ballot initiative in 2016. And while the state still has to explicitly legalize or prohibit these lounges, cities like Las Vegas can establish their laws on the subject of marijuana.
Specifically, the Legislative Counsel Bureau in 2017 clarified that under the current state laws, local jurisdictions can decide to legalize lounges. The only requirement from the state is that such lounges follow its age limit of 21 and older for cannabis use.