Nevada cannabis companies prepare consumption lounges to serve hordes of tourists

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Nevada cannabis companies are getting ready to welcome an influx of 420-loving tourists in 2022. Why? Because, following the enactment of a new state law, the home state of Las Vegas is planning to open a string of cannabis consumption lounges. 

The lounges will serve tens of millions of visitors who descend upon “Sin City” every single year. Up until recently, tourists who visit Las Vegas have been unable to legally consume cannabis products, whether it is by smoking or ingesting the plant, in a social space.

Currently, Nevada law stipulates that it is illegal to consume cannabis in public spaces. What’s more, the 150,000 hotel rooms that are scattered across Las Vegas, as well as the many casinos that dot the skyscraper-laden landscape, do not permit cannabis consumption.

Lack of access to regulated cannabis has hindered sales growth, not to mention the fact that the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on out-of-state tourism for quite some time. Prior to the pandemic proliferating, more than 42 million people ventured to Vegas.

When recreational cannabis was legalized here, it was legalized without a place for tourists to consume it,” said the executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, Layke Martin. “You weren’t legally allowed to consume it in public. Lounges create a space where cannabis products can be consumed legally.”

Nevada’s cannabis consumption lounge law was approved at the last minute by lawmakers

Eight other states permit on-site recreational cannabis consumption just like Nevada does. Even though a total of nine states boast such laws, business owners have faced delays in offering customers access to social consumption venues due to the ongoing pandemic.

The cannabis consumption lounge law was approved in Nevada this past June along with a handful of other last-minute legislative measures. It was signed into effect by Governor Steve Sisolak. Moving forwards, the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) is required to finalize the rules.

Based on Nevada’s new social cannabis consumption lounge law, state regulators will be able to offer two types of cannabis business licenses. They are as follows:

  • A license for sellers that wish to open cannabis consumption lounges that are attached to the same property as their dispensaries.
  • A license for stand-alone consumption spaces that are restricted to selling single-use products; similar to the way in which bars sell alcohol.

It’s important to note that alcohol sales will be forbidden in both types of establishments.

At the present time, approximately 86 cannabis retailers are peppered around the state, of which are held by 45 unique ownership groups. Each individual ownership group will be allowed to possess one consumption lounge license; if they maintain adequate space that qualifies for such an establishment to be launched.

Written notifications clarifying retail cannabis consumption lounge permit eligibility will be distributed among license-holding store owners by the CCB, so long as the licenses were held as of July 1. 

A different type of license will be made available to cannabis retailers with stand-alone lounges that sell single-use products for on-premise consumption, as well as for cannabis retail outlet owners who wish to open an attached lounge.

So far, almost 60 retailers have shown a keen interest to open consumption lounges in Nevada.

Nevada’s cannabis consumption lounge law imposes specific boundaries  

Despite the fact that the CCB is yet to release finalized rules pertaining to Nevada’s cannabis consumption lounges, certain limitations have already been established by state law. It is essential that retailers and consumption lounge license holders take this information into account so as to avoid legal repercussions.

For example, 10 of the first 20 licenses that are distributed among independent cannabis consumption lounges must be designated for social equity applicants. Additionally, retail cannabis consumption lounge licenses will be earmarked for the owners of licensed adult-use stores. 

The CBC anticipates that the initial round of licenses will be issued during the beginning or middle of next year. A one-time, nonrefundable application charge of $100,000 must be paid for business owners who wish to open a retail cannabis consumption lounge, whereas independent lounge owners must pay $10,000.