Nevada Approves Cannabis Lounges and Social Use

NV cannabis lounge

Nevada is one of the first states to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Recently, they passed a bill that would legalize the consumption of cannabis in places other than people’s homes. And the most benefited city with it will be Las Vegas.

Almost 5 years after the legislature of the state legalized the use of recreational marijuana, they are now about to approve another milestone in the form of a marijuana lounge. On Thursday, the bill already passed the state Assembly and is now pending in the Senate.

Nevada’s new Marijuana laws

The older version of the Nevada law allowed the use of marijuana; only in private residences, whether for recreational or medical purposes. It’s illegal to eat, consume, or smoke cannabis inside any of the hotel rooms in Las Vegas. The new version changes will make major amendments, one of which is to provide tourists with a marijuana lounge Las Vegas where they can consume marijuana. According to the executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association and supporter of the new bill Layke Martin, the measure will give the marijuana dispensaries of the city an economic boost.

Under the bill, the Cannabis Compliance Board will take charge of the regulation of marijuana lounges across the state. The Cannabis Compliance Board will issue different types of licenses for sites attached to independent lounges or dispensaries that offer single-use products for consumption. However, the bill has a few limitations like the prohibition of alcohol in any consumption lounges. Also, they won’t allow marijuana lounges in casinos.

The Social Use Legislation

The social use legislation is a bill sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager.  It will create 2 new categories for licensing in the state for cannabis businesses. The first one is for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” and the second is for “independent cannabis consumption lounges.” Existing retailers can apply for the second license, then sell marijuana products for use on-site by consumers aged 21 and above.

An independent marijuana smoking lounge, however, isn’t allowed to sell cannabis. Rather, they should have the products delivered to their consumers by other sources. Independent license holders can make a written request to the regulators for them to either sell the cannabis they produce or enter into an agreement with a retailer to sell their products. Another responsibility of the Cannabis Compliance Board is to create regulations for on-site services and set fees for those applying for licenses.

Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants will pay a lower fee. Under the new legislation, social equity applicants are persons “who have been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws, which criminalized activity relating to cannabis, including, without limitation, adverse effects on an owner, officer or board member of the applicant or on the geographic area in which the applicant will operate.”

Legality of cannabis in Nevada

Although cannabis has already been legal in Nevada since 2016, there weren’t any social-use provisions and the consumption outside private residences remained illegal. In 2019, the first social-use lounge of the state opened – the NuWu Cannabis Tasting Room, by the Vegas Paiute Tribe. The state permitted this because the tribe is a sovereign nation within the state. But the site had to close due to the COVID pandemic. Assemblyman Steve Yaeger (D), the primary sponsor of the bill, hoped that these businesses would begin next year, toward the fall.

These businesses can sell or allow customers to consume different cannabis products. This will also benefit businesses that sell cannabis packaging from pyropapers, pre-rolls tube packaging, flower and edible packaging to glass jars and more. Also, Yaeger stated that he wouldn’t feel surprised if the lounges start opening in the early part of next year. The bill will also set aside social-use licenses for the applicants of social equity. According to Layke Martin, this provision will increase the diversity in the cannabis industry of the state.

What does it mean?

The addition of the new types of licenses and offering the option to consumers, especially in the state filled with tourists will boost marijuana revenues and other tax revenues too. Governor Steve Sisolak is particularly interested in these added revenues as the government can use these in support of public education, which he mentioned last January in his State of the State address.

Governor Sisolak is also committed to promoting justice and equity in the marijuana law of the state. For instance, last year, he pardoned over 15,000 individuals who got convicted of low-level cannabis possession. He performed this action under a resolution that he introduced, which was unanimously and consequently approved by the Board of Pardons Commissioners of the state.

Under the impaired driving bill that cleared the committee separately on Friday, they won’t use the per se blood test for THC to determine impairment. The advocates of this bill believed that there isn’t enough scientific evidence that shows a relationship between active impairment and the number of THC metabolites present in a person’s blood.

Consumption lounges soon to open

While marijuana use got legalized in Nevada back in 2016, many tourists discovered that even if they can buy cannabis, they cannot consume it legally unless they have acquaintances in Las Vegas who would allow them to use the cannabis products in their homes. Cannabis products aren’t allowed inside hotels and casinos either. Because of this, tourists must consume marijuana outdoors or in secret.

But this could soon change as consumption lounges could start opening by the end of this year. Starting the 1st of July, dispensaries can begin applying for licenses with the Cannabis Compliance Board to open their own consumption lounges. Plante 13 Marijuana Dispensary has already begun this process and it plans to open its doors at its Desert Inn Road dispensary.

Bob Groesbeck, Plant 13’s CEO said in a press statement that for the longest time, they believed that tourists need a legal, enjoyable, and safe place where they can consume cannabis. This is why they have planned to open a consumption lounge ever since the first proposal of the bill. NuWu Cannabis Marketplace is one lounge that’s already open in the land of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Right now, it is the only one that offers a legal consumption lounge in the state. 

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