The Nevada legislature has sent a bill to legalize marijuana consumption lounges to the governor’s desk.
After clearing the Assembly last week, the legislation advanced through the Senate in a 17-3 vote on Monday.
Sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D), the bill 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.”
17-3 vote, with 1 GOP and 2 Dems voting against it. pic.twitter.com/iIzAxLgdZc
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) June 1, 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 could enter into a contract with an existing retailer to purchase and prepare ready-to-consume marijuana products for resale.
The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board would also be responsible for creating regulations for on-site facilities and collecting fees for license applicants. Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants would have a reduced fee.
Under the legislation, a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis” is considered a social equity applicant.
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The Senate also adopted an amendment, which the House later concurred on, stipulating that local governments can adopt regulations for consumption lounges that are “more restrictive” than the state rules.
Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) is a strong supporter of the state’s cannabis industry and is expected to sign the proposal.
“We are thrilled that after the long wait, Nevada will finally be home to consumption lounges,” Larry Scheffler Co-CEO of Planet 13, a vertically integrated marijuana company in the state, said. “We’ve long believed that tourists needed a safe, legal and enjoyable place to consume cannabis and have been planning for a consumption lounge and club at the SuperStore since the bill was originally proposed two years ago.”
The 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.
Adding the new social use license types statewide and giving consumers this option—especially in the tourist-centric state—could boost marijuana and other tax revenues. Sisolak has had a particular interest in ensuring that those tax dollars support public education, which he talked about during a State of the State address in January.
The governor has also committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. Last year, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession.
That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.
Locally, the Las Vegas City Council in 2019 approved an ordinance allowing for social consumption sites within city limits.
That year, 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 marijuana legalization law.
In California, the Assembly recently passed a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to permit licensed cannabis lounges to sell non-marijuana foods and drinks.
Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.