The biggest problem facing the recreational cannabis industry in Nevada? There is no place for tourists to consume their legally purchased product. As recently as late August, the Nevada Gaming Commission reiterated its stance that, not only is consumption not allowed on any gaming property, but the Commission went so far as to unanimously discourage gaming licensees from hosting shows or conferences that promote the use, sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana.
With over 40 million tourists visiting Las Vegas every year and the majority staying in casinos, consumption of marijuana could become a real problem. In an attempt to solve the standoff, the Nevada Legislature threw a curveball to local municipalities in September issuing a legal opinion stating that state law does not contain any provisions prohibiting marijuana consumption lounges.
Consumption lounges while technically allowed, some city officials have expressed reservations. Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager said she has too many unanswered questions about the implementation of the lounges to allow them to begin operating in Clark County. Among her issues, Brager said that the city needs clarification as to who would be able to operate a lounge, where they could and could not be located, what kind of ventilation they would be required to have and where the marijuana products consumed inside them would come from. Right now, these questions remain unanswered.
However, one question is clear. After months of following the guidance of the state in navigating the legalization process, it’s the local governments poised to decide whether to move forward with something that no city in the nation has done — license and regulate social consumption lounges. Las Vegas has always considered itself the capital of excess and consumption lounges would be the next step in keeping that edge. It’s not a done deal yet, but it’s a matter of when and not if consumption lounges will land in Nevada.