The Nevada Assembly on Thursday approved a bill to legalize marijuana consumption lounges. And a California bill that would allow local jurisdictions to permit licensed cannabis lounges to sell non-marijuana foods and drinks also cleared that state’s Assembly.
Both pieces of legislation now head to the Senate in their respective states.
In Nevada, the measure from Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D) cleared the chamber in a 29-12 vote. It would create two new licensing categories for cannabis businesses in the state. One would be for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” and the other would be an “independent cannabis consumption lounge.”
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) May 27, 2021
Existing retailers could apply for the former license and sell products that could be consumed on-site by adults 21 and older. Independent lounges would not be permitted to sell cannabis on their own, but would need to have marijuana products delivered to consumers from another source.
That said, independent licensees could submit a request to regulators to sell cannabis that they produce or to enter into a contract with an adult-use retailer to sell their products.
The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board would also be responsible for creating regulations for on-site facilities and setting fees for license applicants. Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants would have a reduced fee.
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Meanwhile, the Nevada legislature also recently sent bills to the governor that would reduce marijuana penalties for minors, rescind per se driving thresholds for THC and allow curbside pickup at dispensaries.
Over in California, the Assembly approved legislation on Thursday that was sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D) on behalf of the City of West Hollywood that would make a more nuanced change to the state’s policy on consumption lounges.
While social use sites are lawful under California’s recreational cannabis program, selling non-marijuana foods and drinks at such establishments is currently prohibited. While West Hollywood approved a local ordinance in 2017 that allowed a first-of-its-kind retailer to open, serving both marijuana and non-infused foods, it operated in a grey area under emergency regulations.
Cannabis consumption cafes and lounges could be coming to corner near you under a bill that passed the CA Assembly. AB 1034 would allow local governments to OK lounges where weed could be enjoyed on site, like the first cannabis cafe in West Hollywood. It now heads to the Senate.
— Joyce Cutler (@joycecutler) May 27, 2021
Final regulations from the state Bureau of Cannabis Control “expressly prohibit” such activity, however, according to an analysis of the Assembly-passed bill. And so the City of West Hollywood is sponsoring the legislation, which “seeks a state licensure category that would allow businesses that have been permitted locally to operate with a state license for consumption lounges.”
“Rather than advocating for the BCC to reopen its regulations and allow for locally authorized consumption lounges to offer non-cannabis products, the City of West Hollywood is sponsoring this bill to accommodate what that jurisdiction and others are aiming to do through local ordinances,” it says. “The bill would allow a local government to grant approval to operate to consumption cafes/lounges where adults could consume cannabis and cannabis products, in addition to the existing authorization for consumption in licensed retail settings.”
When it comes to social use sites, policy has been continually evolving in states and localities where marijuana is legal.
In 2019, Alaska became the first state to enact regulations that provide for the on-site use option at dispensaries.
Colorado followed suit with legislation approved that legalized cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments” where adults could freely use cannabis.
Social consumption sites are also provided for in New York’s recently enacted marijuana legalization law.
Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.