The governor of Nevada has signed a bill to legalize marijuana consumption lounges in the state.
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.”
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.
“I am thrilled that Governor Sisolak has signed AB341 into law! Consumption lounges will finally provide a lawful place for both tourists and locals to safely consume cannabis,” Yeager told Marijuana Moment. “In addition, lounges will help grow Nevada’s small business economy and create hundreds of jobs. In addition, consumption lounges will further solidify Las Vegas’ status as the entertainment capital of the world as well as THE destination for cannabis tourism.”
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 with, stipulating that local governments can adopt regulations for consumption lounges that are “more restrictive” than the state rules.
The governor also recently signed bills that would reduce marijuana penalties for minors and rescind per se driving thresholds for THC.
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.