Legalization

Nevada passes law to permit cannabis lounges

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Your next trip to Vegas just got a lot more interesting. As of a vote last week, Cannabis lounges are coming to the state of Nevada.

Five years after the state’s voters approved legalizing recreational cannabis in Nevada, business owners can now apply for licenses to establish on-site consumption lounges, where adults can smoke, dab or eat THC-laced edibles that they buy.

A law introduced by Assemblyman Steve Yeager that allows the Cannabis Compliance Board to start accepting applications takes effect on Friday. Once licensed, the lounges will become the first public places in Nevada where cannabis products can be consumed recreationally.

The state’s emerging cannabis industry has promoted the lounges for their economic development potential and pitched them as a draw for the millions of tourists who visit Las Vegas annually but can’t legally use the products in places like hotels.

The permitting system created under the new law prioritizes Black and Latino applicants who have been “adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis.”

A points-based system to score applicants was introduced after data showed the state’s cannabis industry to be disproportionately white and male – a finding that concerned lawmakers and advocates who said it pointed to the racial disparities in how drug offenses were prosecuted before legalization.

Licensing fees for the lounges range from $10,000 to $100,000 but can be reduced for applicants affected by previous drug laws. Nevada is now among seven states that now permit cannabis lounges, including New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.