Watch out, high rollers: cannabis lounges are now coming to Vegas.
Last week, the Las Vegas City Council voted 4-1 to allow cannabis lounges to operate within city limits. The bill was sponsored by Councilman Bob Coffin.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Nevada since 2001. In 2016, Nevada residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana as well. Las Vegas is the first city in the Silver State to decide to open its doors to cannabis lounges. According to Councilman Coffin, it’s up to the city of Las Vegas to lead by example, saying, “The state will catch up. We can’t wait for the state to act, you know before they got in their fight up there; they were modeling that bill after ours.”
Following the City Council’s recent decision, lounges dedicated to the consumption of cannabis will soon be appearing all across Sin City, although not on the infamous Strip itself. Licenses for cannabis lounges will only be awarded to those businesses already approved to operate dispensaries, although dispensaries and cannabis lounges will remain separate, and visitors will have to bring their own bud to smoke.
Casinos and businesses serving alcohol will also be prohibited from allowing cannabis consumption.
Despite recreational marijuana now being legal in 9 states, cannabis lounges are harder to find than one might expect. Residents are allowed to consume marijuana on their own private property, but tourists wishing to partake are often out of luck when it comes to finding a place to smoke. For a city famous for excessive alcohol consumption, it’s about time.
In fact, public consumption of cannabis (either medical or recreational) is illegal and remains punishable by law across the state of Nevada.
With cannabis dispensaries now popping up all over the city, the concept of allowing for cannabis lounges is rather straightforward. Said Councilwoman Michele Fiore, “I’m not advocating smoking marijuana, but what I am advocating for is making sure we as a government agency do not create criminals by basically not giving them an outlet after we’ve passed state law.”
Tina Ulman of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said, “We have to have a safe place to consume. Currently, it is a free-for-all on Las Vegas Blvd. and Fremont Street. People are smoking wherever they wish. It needs to be contained in a regulated environment.”
Efforts to legalize cannabis lounges have been strongly opposed by large and politically influential gambling interests, including the Nevada Gaming Commission. According to Virginia Valentine, President of the Nevada Resort Association, one of the gaming industry’s largest lobbyists, “We would rather see a well-crafted ordinance than a rushed one. Rather than rush through this proposal, we would like to see what the legislature decides as well as the recommendation of the governor’s advisory panel.”
Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Kevin Myers approved legislation back in March of this year allowing for on-site cannabis consumption. Denver and West Hollywood have passed similar laws permitting cannabis consumption as well.