The governor of Nevada signed a bill into law that will allow for on-site cannabis consumption lounges in the state, on top of several other marijuana-related measures.
After clearing the Assembly and the Senate last month, and gaining Gov. Steve Sisolak’s approval, the measure – Assembly Bill 341 – will take effect on October 1, 2021. Nevada will then join Alaska as the second state to permit cannabis consumption lounges, with New York and California set to follow and Denver recently opting to make such facilities a permanent feature in the city.
It establishes two licensing categories for businesses that want to allow customers to use marijuana on their premises. The first is for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” which existing marijuana retailers can apply for to allow adults 21 and older to consume cannabis purchased on-site. The other, for “independent cannabis consumption lounges”, would allow businesses that don’t sell marijuana to enter into an agreement with a retailer to purchase cannabis and resell it to their own customers for onsite consumption.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D), welcomed the bill’s passage as a boon for both tourists and locals.
“I am thrilled that Governor Sisolak has signed AB341 into law! Consumption lounges will finally provide a lawful place for both tourists and locals to safely consume cannabis,” said Yeager. “In addition, lounges will help grow Nevada’s small business economy and create hundreds of jobs. In addition, consumption lounges will further solidify Las Vegas’ status as the entertainment capital of the world as well as THE destination for cannabis tourism.”
The state’s marijuana regulator, the Cannabis Compliance Board, will be responsible for drawing up the regulations for on-site cannabis consumption lounges, as well as issuing licenses to applicants. Businesses owned by a social equity applicant – defined as a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis” – will be eligible for a reduced licensing fee under provisions of the legislation.
Gov. Sisolak also recently signed a bill into law that will amend Nevada’s DUI laws so that trace amounts of THC or its metabolites found in a driver’s system will no longer be a per se violation. Marijuana reform advocates typically oppose per se DUI laws for cannabis on the basis that THC and its metabolites linger in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects have worn off, meaning the driver was not necessarily impaired when a sample is taken.
That same day, the governor signed another measure into law that will reduce low-level marijuana possession penalties for minors who are first time offenders. While marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older in Nevada, minors previously faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Now, such an offense is punishable by community service and the criminal records of those charged will be automatically sealed after completing their sentence. This law change takes effect from July 1, 2021.