Las Vegas is set to open its first cannabis consumption lounge. At what is basically a cannabis bar, you’ll be able to buy bowls, dabs, edibles and more, while getting to try them at the location, something that is hard to do, even in states with legal recreational marijuana. However, with the opening comes a caveat - the lounge will most likely be the only one in Nevada until 2021, as their governor recently opted to hold off on opening lounges in the state for more research to be done.
What is the Lounge?
In most of the country where you can legally partake in getting high, consuming marijuana in any form is only allowed in your home. It’s illegal to do so in public for a number of concerns, mostly for the children (even though that's a stretch), so many advocates have lobbied for essentially cannabis bars, which would legally allow social consumption of marijuana in a secure place. Earlier this May, the Las Vegas city council authorized businesses to begin setting up cannabis consumption lounges, which only a month later was overridden by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. The blow came hard to many who were primed to make Las Vegas a focal point in the marijuana industry by introducing the cannabis lounges to the market. While the lounges may come to light in about two years, for now, only one business is going to have the advantage of being a cannabis bar in Nevada. The NuWu Cannabis Marketplace is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, which has sovereign land in Las Vegas, thus allowing them to circumvent state laws. Because the land is owned by the tribe, they have their own cannabis authority which is self-regulated and not subject to following any state laws or taxes regarding cannabis. With no state taxes and no extra barriers, the tribe is taking advantage of its possibilities. “We decided to move the industry along and be pioneers,” says Benny Tso, a former chairman of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and current tribal council member told the Las Vegas Sun. Tso has been a longtime advocate in the state, helping State Senator Tick Segerbloom form the cannabis industry in the state years ago. With a nearly 16,000 square foot marketplace that will be located just north of the strip, the tribe is counting on being the sole lounge and using the profits to give themselves a boost. “This just gave the tribe three more generations,” Tso said. “Economically for the tribe, it puts us in the position of becoming fully self-sufficient.” Originally, Tso wanted to bring cannabis into the conversation to help his tribe diversify their economy and attempt to bring a boost to his people. The money from the lounge will go toward health, elderly care, education, as well as government services. “People have asked before if we knew what we were doing because cannabis is such a provocative subject,” Tso said. “Yes, we do know what we’re doing. We know the conditions of our tribe and its members, what they struggle with. This is why we’re doing that. We can [now afford] to look at things we weren’t able to before.” Now a tribal council member, Tso is helping bring his tribe to the front of the legal cannabis movement.
What Can You do at This Cannabis Lounge?
As cannabis begins to enter the conversation socially, we are only just figuring out what it means to go to a cannabis bar. For NuWu, visiting their establishment means getting not only a variety of strains but a variety of ways to get high from them. According to Alfreda Mitre, a Paiute Tribe Councilwoman, the experience will mimic that of a brewery or wine tasting venue. Workers and waiters will be on hand at all times, not only to ensure safety but to help people properly consume the products and help streamline and boost their experience. For those who get a little out of hand, Mitre said that “There is a time limit that will be in place. We do have budtenders that will be able to gently nudge the customer when they think their needs will be met." While the $8 dollar NuWu cannabis beer, a lager with Pilsner malt, is probably what most people have in mind when talking about a cannabis bar, the majority of the menu is based around the more common ways people consume marijuana. Pre-rolled joints are available at $20 dollars a pop, with strains like cookies and cream, strawberry cough, venom OG, and more coming from three different producers. The producers, including Reina, Smoke Signals, and Tyson Ranch, supply a number of different strains for people. For those who prefer smoking with glass, there will be a range of pipes, bowls, bongs, and rigs for those who want different sizes or degrees of participation. Bowls are from $10 to $12 dollars while pipes are from $22 to $25 dollars with around 17 options at the moment, with more expected to come in time. With a series of sativa, indica, and hybrid strains, the options make it easy and accessible for those who are new or experienced. At the lounge, there will be a number of dab rig and vaporizer setups, with concentrates coming in at $12 to $14 for a variety of nearly a dozen strains. While the edible menu currently only consists of the beer, the door is very much open for expansion, depending on how well the business does.
What About Lounges in Other States
California has recently made moves to open more than a dozen cannabis consumption lounges across the state in the next year. While the state has been at the front of the movement, community concerns and legal troubles have kept the spaces from opening recently when they got legislature approval. Now some spots are getting ready for a huge boom in the lounges, like West Hollywood, which approved 16 to be opened in the next year or so. States like Colorado and Massachusetts have some lounges available too, but it’s likely that they will not become common until federal legalization comes.