As pressure mounts from the White House to crack down on recreational weed, Nevada just passed several pot-related bills, including one that will allow for marijuana social lounges and other forms of public consumption.
Nevada’s Senate Bill 236 passed with a 12-9 vote on Tuesday and will now go to the Assembly. Lawmakers are finalizing recommendations and details on how marijuana lounges will function in Southern Nevada (home to Las Vegas), making it the first state in the union to allow regulated weed social clubs.
Earlier this month, Colorado lawmakers put the kibosh on a bill that would have allowed pot lounges. Governor John Hickenlooper worried that such a move might provoke the feds and ultimately threaten Colorado’s billion-dollar industry.
Alaska also delayed dispensary consumption, and Maine is still hedging.
So, it’s up to you, Nevada.
The gambling industry doesn’t mind, in fact they support the move but cannot allow smoking on their properties at the risk of losing their licenses.
At the moment in Nevada, adults can possess up to an ounce of pot but according to a new law that took effect in January, they can only consume in a private residence.
That puts Las Vegas’s tourists—a record 43.9 million visited in 2016—in a pickle: they can buy pot legally, but have no place to use it.
“Tourists don’t have a home in Nevada,” said the bill’s sponsor Senator Tick Segerblom, according to the Las-Vegas Review Journal.
Some lawmakers suggested pot lounges could be located off the Strip, as a “safe haven” for tourists to keep them from bringing weed onto casino property, causing them problems with federal law.
Think of the revenue.
Segerblom pointed out that Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval has a two-year budget that calls for roughly $70 million to come from marijuana sales tax and that tourists are an important part of that goal.
“We’re trying to get $70 million in tax revenue from them,” Segerblom said. “So let’s give them some place to use it.”