Las Vegas cannabis retailers get the go-ahead to offer drive-thru services

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cannabis dispensaries in Las Vegas have been given the green light to start operating drive-thru windows. The city is following in the footsteps of other jurisdictions across Southern Nevada with the aim of launching a safer business model amid the pandemic.

A vote on Wednesday, March 3 by the City Council led to the decision, which was approved without discussion or debate. Following the vote’s 6-0 passing, a citywide restriction on dispensary drive-thru services has now been rescinded.

During the summer of last year, Clark County and North Las Vegas also lifted limitations on cannabis dispensary drive-thru windows.

While local governments have only just loosened the laws surrounding cannabis dispensary drive-thrus in Las Vegas, one dispensary near the downtown district has served customers with a drive-thru window since 2017. That dispensary is NuWu Cannabis Marketplace, which can be found on Las Vegas Paiute tribal land.

Cannabis industry broadly supported bill to allow drive-thru windows in Las Vegas

Councilwoman Michele Fiore sponsored the bill to permit drive-thru windows in Las Vegas. Thus far, the bill has garnered plenty of support from the cannabis industry as a whole, with many people actively involved in the industry urging businesses to adopt these services in an effort to minimize the coronavirus outbreak and stimulate business growth amid the pandemic.

“Drive-throughs allow dispensaries to serve customers efficiently and safely, while balancing capacity limits and other restrictions,” wrote Layke Martin, executive director for the Nevada Dispensary Association, in a letter of support. “Drive-throughs provide an opportunity for customer convenience, especially for elderly or medical patients who have difficulty leaving their cars.”

A February hearing on the bill saw the compliance director for Thrive Cannabis Marketplace discuss the positive repercussions of introducing facilities whereby consumers can drive to their chosen dispensary and have their weed handed to them whilst still buckled up..

“It’s been incredibly beneficial for us for a number of reasons: One being COVID safety protocols,” Blackwood said. “And given the capacity restrictions that we are currently under, we were able to not only meet but to exceed our pre-coronavirus sales numbers and traffic as well without having to drive as many people through the store.”

Blackwood claims that approximately 40 percent of the North Las Vegas dispensary‘s traffic was sent via the drive-thru feature. This influx of traffic has been attributed to the higher level of convenience and security that it brings for customers. His company has been operating a drive-thru window since July of last year.

Cannabis dispensary owners in Las Vegas must adhere to development requirements for drive-thru services 

Just two cannabis facilities in the city of Las Vegas were utilizing drive-thru windows as of February. Thanks to the newly passed bill, all cannabis-related businesses can now introduce a drive-thru service or, at the very least, consider it.

“It’s just a standard that we have whether you’re a bank, whether you’re a fast food restaurant, whether you’re a wedding chapel, or now a [cannabis] dispensary,” said city Planning Director Robert Summerfield during a hearing on the bill in February.

Development requirements must be followed by cannabis dispensary owners in Las Vegas who intend on expanding their businesses with drive-thru operations. Examples of the standards for such businesses include landscape requirements to conceal the drive-thru lane from public view and queuing lanes.