Social cannabis consumption is the future as multiple states update lounge laws

social cannabis consumption

Colorado was the first American state to legalize cannabis for adult use, but tourists have had nowhere to consume it. Public social cannabis consumption is strictly prohibited, and most hotels don’t allow guests to smoke or vape on-site. The city of Denver wants to change that while also building a more equitable local industry.

Cannabis tours, limos, and buses in Denver

In 2021 the Denver city council enacted a bill legalizing what is now known as “mobile hospitality unit” licenses. The licenses allow limos, vans, and tour buses to offer consumption as long as they do not remain parked in one location for over 30 minutes and don’t sell cannabis on board.

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Drivers must follow an approved route, have tints or other measures to conceal cannabis consumption from the public, and have operating air filtration. Vehicles must also remain 1,000 feet from rec centers, schools, daycares, and rehabilitation facilities. Mobile hospitality units are required to stay an allotted distance from other consumption lounges and hospitality establishments.

The passage of this bill coincides with a moratorium on all licenses in the state. Until 2027 all newly issued Denver cannabis licenses must go to applicants that have been directly harmed by the war on drugs, also known as social equity applicants. Social equity applicants must own at least 51% of any new business applying for a hospitality license, two have been granted so far.

The Cannabis Experience was the first mobile hospitality unit licensed by the city, according to reports from NBC 9 News. High Flying Cannabis Bus Tours also won a license to operate in the River North Art District of the Mile High City. The company plans to show cannabis tourists the RiNo art district, provide airport transportation, and best of all, take the bus straight to the dispensary.

The Denver city council is also in the process of finalizing approval for on-site consumption lounges. While tourists await the lounge opening at the historic Patterson Inn they can check out The Tetra Lounge and The Coffee Joint.

Nevada consumption lounges are near

While Denver visitors and residents enjoy having new places to legally light up, other tourism-fueled states like Nevada are doing the same. This week the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) issued the first three conditional consumption lounge licenses, according to NBC News 3.

Conditional licenses went to Planet 13, Sol Cannabis, and Thrive Cannabis Marketplace. Of these locations, Planet 13 and Thrive are 10 to 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, and Sol Cannabis is located seven hours away near Reno. With federal oversight in gaming, this will probably be the closest lounges and other cannabis offerings can be to the famous Strip.

Social cannabis consumption
He relaxes inside wintery mountain home, warming up Photo: AscentXmedia / Getty Images

In addition to these three, 37 other consumption lounge hopefuls were granted provisional licenses in November. From there, provisional license holders submit designated paperwork to CCB to move to the conditional phase. Before the three conditional lounges can open, they must pass a CCB inspection and adhere to all local ordinances. In Vegas, for example, lounges must remain 1000 feet from one another.

Refreshments, libations, and live tunes possible in California

In California, the legislature is working on its own consumption lounge laws. CA Assembly Bill 374 passed assembly with bi-partisan support this month and now awaits Senate approval. The bill would legalize food and live music at cannabis consumption lounges, a move that Assemblyman Matt Haney told ABC News was an idea from lounge owners.

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Currently, preparing and selling food is prohibited at cannabis lounges according to California law–the passage of this bill would change that. Those who eat there must still be over 21, and lounge locations will maintain distance from schools. Oversaturation will be considered to keep city blocks from turning into green-light districts.

This move to add refreshments and entertainment to the cannabis lounge experience is hopeful. Lawmakers and business owners believe this may loosen the financial stress constricting many cannabis operators.

More than ten years after the first adult-use law was passed in America, interested canna tourists are getting excited. Planning a cannabis vacation is getting a lot simpler. Developments like hospitality licenses in Denver, consumption lounges in Las Vegas, and new offerings in California will hopefully inspire more states to create more places to safely consume socially.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.