The Las Vegas City Council voted 4 to 1 to permit cannabis consumption lounges. Las Vegas will become the first city in Nevada to allow cannabis consumption lounges, and one of the first handful of cities in the U.S. to allow them.
Social consumption lounges were the logical next step for Las Vegas, a city that heavily relies on tourism. Recreational cannabis has been legal in Nevada since 2017, but non-residents had limited legal options to legally consume the cannabis they purchase. “I think that we need these social-use venues,” Councilmember Cedric Crear said. “It allows people that are coming into town a place to go smoke legally.”
City Spokesman Jace Radke said it could be several months before the licensed recreational cannabis sales dispensaries in Las Vegas to get permits to open hookah-style social consumption lounges. For now, the state will only grant licenses to open a lounge to those already licensed to run a dispensary and other interested businesses will have to wait a year. The approval process is expected to take three to four months.
Lounges will not be able to sell or provide cannabis, but will sell paraphernalia like rolling papers. They must also meet strict requirements for odor control, fire safety, air quality, sanitation and security. Consumption lounges must also be at least 1,000 feet from schools and casinos. Lounges will also be prohibited from selling alcohol.
State gaming regulators opposed the new measure because of concerns over federal drug laws. The Nevada Gaming Commission has instructed casino owners to not allow cannabis consumption on their properties. Some casino executives expressed concerns that social consumption lounges will create more public intoxication issues. “We’re already finding it incredibly difficult to limit consumption . . . We’re very concerned that expanding the industry without proper oversight, similar to the gaming industry,” Fremont Street Experience CEO Patrick Hughes said.