Culture

Bill to OK cannabis lounges advances in Nevada Legislature

(Photo by Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Almost five years after Nevada legalized recreational marijuana sales, state lawmakers are close to approving pot lounges where people could consume it.

A bill that passed the state Assembly on Thursday and is pending in the Senate would legalize consumption of cannabis in places other than on private property.

Action on the proposed law comes ahead of a deadline: A 2019 moratorium preventing local governments from going ahead and licensing lounges expires June 30.

“If the state (doesn’t) take some action, I think we would potentially have a situation where different local governments are operating under different rules,” Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Sun.

The state would not be able to regulate lounges or collect licensing and application fees.

This is the third legislative session that Democratic lawmakers have tried to legalize consumption lounges.

Nevada law allows legal marijuana, both recreational and medical, to be consumed only in a private residence. It is not legal for visitors to smoke, eat or consume cannabis inside any of Las Vegas’ nearly 150,000 hotel rooms.

The measure would give tourists a place to consume cannabis while providing an economic boost for dispensaries, said Layke Martin, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, which supports the bill.

Under the bill, the state Cannabis Compliance Board would regulate consumption lounges statewide. Different types of licenses would be issued for sites attached to dispensaries or to stand-alone lounges selling single-use products for consumption on-site.

Alcohol could not be served in any consumption lounge, and pot lounges would not be allowed in casinos.

Nevada voters approved the recreational sale and use of marijuana for adults in 2016 and the first licensed retail pot shops opened in July 2017.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, then a Democratic state senator, led an effort that year to legalize consumption lounges. It died in the Legislature.

Segerblom termed marijuana a “social drug” that people want to consume with friends, and told the Sun it is hypocritical to advertise Nevada as a marijuana destination without creating legal places for tourists to consume it.