Las Vegas City Council approves cannabis lounges

The Las Vegas Strip will be illuminated even more brightly.

City council members cleared the way for the opening of cannabis consumption lounges, voting 5-1 on Wednesday against a proposal that would have caused Las Vegas to refuse to allow those businesses, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The vote came after the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board gave its final approval of the operations in June.

At that time, the board laid down procedures for prospective lounge owners.

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

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

This final regulatory approval comes almost a year after the Nevada state legislature approved funding for the Cannabis Compliance Board, which is tasked with overseeing consumption lounges in the state.

Nevada cities may choose not to allow 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 approved the licensing process, but had an opportunity to change course Wednesday.”

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman tabled the motion to have it rejected, but it was defeated 5-1 on Monday.

Seaman said voters told her “they’d rather not have them in the residential areas and rather have them in the tourist areas, so I won’t support that,” the Review-Journal quoted as saying.

But others see the lounges as another boon to Las Vegas’ vibrant tourism industry. It will also provide refuge for the thousands of out-of-towners who come to the city each week. As local news station KSNV put it, “the state’s current law allows many from out of town to use the drug illegally, either on the street or in a hotel room,” but cannabis lounges are about to change that.

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

“I think it’s important for the city to consider the business opportunities that consumption lounges bring and also some relief from issues that we’re hearing a lot about at the moment because we’re not giving people a place to actually go can consume when they buy something. Councilwoman Olivia Diaz told the Review Journal after Wednesday’s vote. “We still have a lot to do and still a lot to do.”

The newspaper reported that 20 cannabis use lounge licenses will be issued across the state, half of which will be awarded to social justice applicants, individuals from communities 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 begin on October 14 and end on October 22.

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