Just less than two years ago something extraordinary happened that made Las Vegas more than just a hot travel spot for those with an affinity for 24/7 access to gambling, booze and many other sources of entertainment and “sinful” pleasures. The state of Nevada legalized marijuana for recreational use – a move that was destined to turn the city of Las Vegas up a notch by giving residents and tourists the freedom to buy and consume cannabis conceivably in the same way that adults have consumed alcohol and tobacco all of these years. Now, across the glittering town of Las Vegas are dispensaries selling legal weed. However, one glaring problem persists – there is nowhere to legally consume it. On May 1, 2019, Las Vegas City Council addressed the issue and voted to permit social-use lounges where people can legally consume marijuana, making the city the first in Nevada, and one of the few nationwide, to permit such venues. Read on to find out what the Las Vegas City Council specifically allowed for cannabis lounges to be operational, what to expect in the near future and a couple of tips for tourists that plan on consuming cannabis in the state of Nevada.
What did The Las Vegas City Council allow?
Fox5Vegas.com and Las Vegas Review Journal report that in a four to one vote, the Las Vegas City Council passed the ordinance allowing retail marijuana stores and dispensaries to apply for special use permits to open marijuana lounges. The council majority viewed the bill as the next logical step after Nevada voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016. Among the restrictions that were included in the ordinance:
Cannabis Lounge Restrictions and Policies
- Lounges would require an air control plan to keep smoke from getting out
- For the first year, the only businesses with access to a lounge permit are the 12 dispensaries in the city of Las Vegas and 10 businesses that hold dispensary licenses
- Business owners must apply for a special use permit that costs $5,000 per year and would need to be approved by The Las Vegas City Council
- Each lounge must meet odor standards and have plans for security, training, fire safety, air quality and sanitation
- Lounges must be 1,000 feet from schools or casinos and 300 feet from protected institutions such as churches
- Delivery to commercial locations is prohibited under state law
- Marijuana consumption taking place inside the lounges cannot be visible to the public
For The Cannabis Consumer
- You must be at least 21 years old to enter a lounge
- The venues cannot provide, sell distribute or store the drug, but they may sell or distribute paraphernalia. In other words, consumers must buy their herb from a dispensary and then take it to the consumption lounge to use it. Otherwise known as a BYOW type situation (Bring Your Own Weed)
- These establishments will have the freedom to sell paraphernalia such as smoking devices, rolling papers, lighters and more
- Alcohol cannot be served or consumed inside of a lounge or anywhere on the property
- Lounges will be allowed to sell munchie items and beverages, just as long as they do not contain alcohol or marijuana
Future in Cannabis Lounges
Las Vegas is now among the first handful of cities around the country to allow for such venues. As it stands, only Alaska, Denver and San Francisco have some version of social-use marijuana lounges on the books. Still, it’s going to take a little time before cannabis lounges are operational. Las Vegas City spokesman, Jace Radke, said, “it could take several months before cannabis users can relish in these consumption lounges. So, we doubt they will be ready in time for the height of the summer travel season, but let’s hope the wait won’t be long.”
As cannabis becomes increasingly socially accepted, people who understand that consumers want to be able to use cannabis socially in the same way they go out for a drink will outnumber voices of opposition. Cannabis lounges will soon be as prevalent as neighborhood pubs or coffee shops.
Tips for Tourists
It is important to note that the state of Nevada still only permits the consumption of cannabis within a private residence and especially not in hotel rooms, casinos, schools and universities, dorm rooms, common areas in apartment buildings, offices buildings, restaurants, bars, stadiums, public restrooms and federal property. In fact, The Nevada Gaming Commission has instructed casino license holders to disallow any use of marijuana anywhere on casino property, which is still illegal under federal law. A new rule imposed last year by the Nevada Gaming Commission gives casinos the right to toss out any noticeably high patron. Apparently, they have even trained their security details to recognize stoned gaming. Once cannabis lounges are open to the public later this year, tourists will no longer have to break the law to enjoy legal weed while visiting Las Vegas.