Viva Las Vegas!

Stephen Andrews
08 Dec 2021

Nevada is one of the best states where cannabis lovers can have a ball. And you can go about even more so in the future! Existing dispensaries are now allowed to add extra lounge space where consumers can enjoy pot on the spot. Other independent businesses can also break into the market and offer single-use pot products.

Assembly Bill 341 went into effect on Oct. 1 and made cannabis lounges legal across the state of Nevada. It's something that both recreational users and the industry should applaud. 

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board will begin accepting applications for cannabis lounges in the spring of 2022. Dispensaries can apply for a license to run a lounge directly attached to their property. The concept very much resembles how coffee shops operate in Amsterdam. It will allow customers to immediately use an item they purchase from a vendor and sit back in an adjacent lounge room.

Assemblyman Steve Yeager from Nevada's senate finance committee, sponsor of the bill, likened the new venture to a bar where instead of alcohol, they serve joints, foods or drinks infused with weed, whatever appropriate for the location. 

Yeager also highlighted the sheer scope of possibilities the new bill will open for businesses and users alike. Theaters, comedy clubs, or even yoga studios can adopt cannabis-friendly policies. Restaurants can expand their menu offer with canna-spiced specialties. 

Nevada legalized cannabis in 2017, however, consumption remained prohibited in public areas and most hotel and casino venues. Tourists flocking to Vegas have struggled to find appropriate spots where they can socialize while sharing a spliff. 

A rare exception has been a lounge that operates on tribal land just to the north of downtown Las Vegas, managed by the Paiute Tribe. Still, the smell of marijuana is standard on the Strip, and the law has done little to stop tourists from openly smoking pot. Official reports suggest that the police have rarely arrested individuals for smoking in public. Nevertheless, having legal cannabis lounges around will ease things for everyone. 

"We've been a big proponent of this. This has been a long time coming and you will see Planet 13 at the forefront of what consumption lounges will look like," said David Farris, VP of sales and marketing at Planet 13, the largest marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas and beyond.

Farris is optimistic that the new bill will give people a comfortable place to enjoy marijuana while also attracting more tourists.

"I do think people will come around the world and throughout the country to Las Vegas to experience how to consume marijuana the right way," he said. 

Besides existent cannabis retailers, lounge licenses will be granted to other entities willing to debut in the cannabis sector.

Part of the licenses will also be awarded to individuals who've faced legal repercussions under old drugs law. The bill refers to these applicants as the Social Equity Applicants. 

Within the first round of applications, the state foresees to grant 20 independent lounges, 10 of which will be owned by people historically affected by the war on drugs. 

"It absolutely is important to say they should have opportunity and the right to be financially in this industry," said A'Esha Goins, who chairs the state's Cannabis Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Social Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. 

Layke Martin, Nevada Dispensary Association director, said the bill's passage with overwhelming support from lawmakers spoke volumes. 

"We were really excited to see that the bill gained bipartisan support in both houses, and I think that bodes well," she said. "There's a lot ahead of us. There are going to be a lot of regulations in place making sure that these lounges are safe."

Stephen Andrews