For almost four years, Nevada has had places for tourists to legally buy marijuana but nowhere to legally consume it. That’s about to change with a new law that enables cannabis consumption lounges.
On-site consumption of cannabis products will be permitted at dispensaries or standalone lounges when a new law passed by the Nevada Legislature and signed by the governor earlier this month goes into effect on Oct. 1.
“The passage of [the bill] was a pivotal moment for the state and the industry,” said Brandon Wiegand, chief commercial officer on the Source+ dispensary, which has four locations throughout the state, including three in southern Nevada.
The state Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) will regulate consumption lounges. Different types of licenses would be issued for sites attached to dispensaries or to stand-alone lounges selling single-use products for consumption on-site. Alcohol cannot be served in any consumption lounge.
The board must create the application and open the application period before any licenses will be issued or lounges can open. County and municipal governments will decide on allowing them in their geographical boundaries.
“The CCB understands the excitement and urgency around lounges and will be working to get that done as quickly as possible,” said Wiegand, who added the Source+ plans to apply for a lounge license.
Among the others planning to open a consumption lounge is Planet 13 Marijuana Dispensary. “We’ve long believed that tourists needed a safe, legal, and enjoyable place to consume cannabis and have been planning for a consumption lounge at the superstore since the bill was originally proposed two years ago,” said Bob Groesbeck, co-CEO of Planet 13.
NuWu Cannabis Marketplace, on Las Vegas Paiute land north of downtown, currently offers the only legal consumption lounge in the state. The 15,000-square-foot store opened a 1,200-square-foot tasting room in 2019.
Even when the new law goes into effect, it will still not be legal to smoke, eat or consume cannabis in casinos or in any of Las Vegas’ 150,000 hotel rooms. Because casinos are highly regulated with state licenses, they do not permit marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law.
The new Nevada law prohibits lounges from being licensed in or within 1,500 feet of casinos, similar to a law that prohibits short-term vacation rentals within 2,500 feet from hotels.
“Obviously, there have been some problems with people consuming in public,” state assemblyman Steve Yeager, the bill’s sponsor, told Vegas Inc. “Soon, there will be an answer when tourists ask where they’re allowed to consume. I think that will add to the experience that tourists have. I also think we’ll get some tourists to come here because of that consumption lounge experience.”
Nevada voters approved the recreational sale and use of marijuana for adults in 2016, and the first licensed retail pot shops opened in July 2017. Until this year, however, no state laws permitted its consumption in public, limiting its legal use to private residences.
An individual can purchase one ounce of marijuana or 3.5 grams of concentrate at one time, the same amount an individual is legally allowed to possess at any given time, at state-licensed dispensaries.