On December 13th, key leaders in the Nevada cannabis industry met at Las Vegas City Hall to speak with city officials about developing cannabis lounges. Nevada would be adding its name to the short list of current and possible upcoming consumption lounges. Back in 2016 voters in Denver, Colorado passed ‘Initiative 300’ to regulate cannabis consumption lounges within the city. Just one application has been received thus far. West Hollywood, California plans to accept applications for an initial eight consumption lounges that would be attached to cannabis dispensaries starting in January 2018.
But an ordinance proposed by Las Vegas Councilman Bob Coffin would allow the city to license cannabis consumption lounges and the proposal itself was brought months after SB236 was quickly shot down by the legal arm of state legislature (see here for details). That bill would have allowed for the same general privileges that would be allowed in this new proposal. The ordinance, which Coffin said is being drafted could possibly change before the City Council votes on the issue to allow for a variety of consumption-friendly establishments.
This proposed position from Nevada officials is predictable. Considering the initial stance that was the backbone of passing recreational cannabis law in Nevada was regulating cannabis consumption just like alcohol. For Nevada to generate the amount of tax revenue that they had planned for by legalizing recreational cannabis, the 43 million plus people who visit Las Vegas for it will need viable places to hang out and enjoy their herb, legally. Nevada is known for regulated gambling, prostitution, drinking and strip clubs. Cannabis should not seem like such a monster to conquer.
Cannabis lounges would not be allowed to store or sell cannabis, or alcohol. Lounge employees would not be allowed to consume while on the job. They would be allowed to sell consumption tools, various paraphernalia items, food and beverages, and provide various forms of media and entertainment. State law currently bans cannabis deliveries to anywhere other than a private residence, so customers would have to bring their own products into the lounges.
All seems clear and at least somewhat fair regarding the lounge rules, however, there has been some controversy coming from some who are currently invested in the cannabusiness. Some feel that these lounges would allow for the spread of black market sales because there would not be a way to confirm whether or not cannabis was legally purchased since patrons would be bringing in the product. Darcy Adelbai-Hurd, senior management analyst for the city of Las Vegas, said applicants would need to address those issues, including how to comply with the Cole Memo, in a safety plan that would be required to obtain a license. The Cole Memo is a document drawn up by James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General, in August 2013 which instructed federal prosecutors not to go after cannabis businesses that abide by state laws.
The consumption program would initially start on a pilot basis running for two years with the possibility of the regulations being adopted permanently afterwards. No matter what measures are adopted to satisfy Nevada officials, in the long run, anything that needs to be done to provide safe and secure places for tourists and locals to consume cannabis outside of private residences will be welcomed both on and outside of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Assistant City Attorney Bryan Scott said lounges could be approved in March, which could put Las Vegas in the running for having the nation’s first government-regulated marijuana consumption lounges.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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