Nevada’s cannabis regulator approved regulations that could pave the way for the state’s first legal marijuana consumption lounges by the end of 2022.
Nevada launched its legal cannabis market in 2017 and the move has proven to be a further boost to the state’s already lucrative tourism market. However, under Nevada’s recreational marijuana laws, as in many other legal states, consuming cannabis in public remains prohibited.
Some businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, have decided to cater to marijuana tourists by providing cannabis-friendly locations but on-site purchases of marijuana products at such establishments is not permitted.
To remedy the lack of facilities for cannabis tourists, state lawmakers approved a bill legalizing and licensing on-site marijuana consumption lounges. The legislation included two license categories: the first is for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” whereby retailers will be permitted to sell marijuana products for on-site consumption. The second is for “independent cannabis consumption lounges” that will operate as standalone lounges able to sell single-serving cannabis products.
Gov. Steve Sisolak reacted to the Cannabis Compliance Board’s approval of the new regulations by tweeting, “In Nevada, we’ve prioritized the cannabis industry while protecting Nevadans AND diversifying the economy.”
Nevada isn’t the first state to allow cannabis consumption lounges, but the new framework is perhaps the country’s most permissive. Establishments would be similar to bars selling alcohol rather than just social clubs where customers bring their own marijuana with them.
The bill expands the range of standalone businesses that could offer cannabis to include yoga, restaurants, and THC-aided massage therapists.
“While most of the consumption lounges in other states don’t offer food, beverages or other entertainment options,” Sisolak said at the time of the bill’s passage, “Nevada’s lounges will be a one-stop entertainment shop to create jobs, grow the industry and boost our economy.”
The new regulations stipulate that cannabis consumption must not be visible to the public, and that smoking or vaping can only happen in a separate room. Single-use, or ready-to-consume, cannabis products are not allowed to be taken off-site, and licensed establishments must provide water to guests at no charge.
Furthermore, licensed consumption lounges will not be permitted to sell alcohol, tobacco, or nicotine.
The regulations include other rules with safety in mind. Such establishments must have policies in place that minimize employee exposure to second-hand smoke and reduce the risk of impaired driving. Guns are not permitted, while surveillance systems are mandatory.
Further, single-use marijuana products are limited to a maximum of 3.5 grams of cannabis, while vaping and dabbing products must not exceed 300 milligrams of THC. Edibles, meanwhile, must contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC.
Local governments retain the right to introduce more restrictive regulations.
The Cannabis Compliance Board anticipates opening up the first round of applications for licenses this fall, and intends to release various informational tools to prospective applicants ahead of time to help with the process.
For this first round, Nevada’s cannabis regulator will issue 20 “independent cannabis consumption lounge” licenses, of which 10 must be awarded to social equity applicants. Such individuals are defined as those from historically deprived areas, those with a nonviolent cannabis conviction, or who have a family member with such a conviction.
A further 40 to 45 licenses will be issued to existing dispensaries as “retail cannabis consumption lounge” licenses.