Las Vegas City Council Approves Cannabis Consumption Lounges

Council voted 5-1 in favor of the proposal.

The Las Vegas strip is about to get even more lit.

Members of the city council cleared the way for the opening of cannabis consumption lounges, voting 5-1 on Wednesday against a motion that would have had Las Vegas opt out of allowing those businesses, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The vote came after the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board in June gave its final sign off on the establishments.

The board laid out procedures for would-be lounge owners at the time.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in a June release. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

That final regulatory approval came nearly a year after Nevada state lawmakers approved funding for the Cannabis Compliance Board, which has been charged with overseeing the consumption lounges in the state.

Cities in Nevada could opt out of allowing the consumption lounges in their jurisdictions. According to the Review-Journal, by “not responding to a letter from the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board earlier this month, the city automatically opted in to the licensing process, but still had an opportunity Wednesday to change course.”

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman filed the motion to opt out, but it was voted down 5-1 on Monday.

Seaman said constituents had told her that “they would rather not have them in the residential areas and have them more in the tourist areas, so, I’m not going to be supporting this,” as quoted by the Review-Journal.

But others view the lounges as yet another boon for Las Vegas’ vibrant tourism industry. It will also provide refuge for the thousands of out-of-towners who descend upon the city each week. As local news station KSNV put it, the state’s “current law leaves many from out of town consuming the drug illegally, either on the streets or a hotel room,” but the cannabis lounges will change that.

According to the Review-Journal, the lounges “will allow marijuana customers to smoke the drug legally for the first time outside of private homes since voters legalized recreational use in 2016.”

“I think it’s important for the city to consider the business opportunity that consumption lounges will bring, and also some relief of issues we’re currently hearing about a lot because we’re not offering a place for folks to actually consume when they buy,” Councilwoman Olivia Diaz told the Review-Journal after the vote on Wednesday. “We have still some way to go and some more work to do.”

The newspaper reported that there will be 20 licenses awarded throughout the state for cannabis consumption lounges, half of which will be given to social equity applicants, individuals from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

The Cannabis Compliance Board announced earlier this month that the application period for prospective cannabis consumption lounge owners will open on October 14 and conclude on October 22.

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