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Nevada Approves Cannabis Consumption Lounges

March 21, 2023 08:00 am ET
Nevada Approves Cannabis Consumption Lounges

At one time, there was a sign coming into Las Vegas that read, “Don’t gamble with marijuana.” In Nevada, possession equals 20 years, and sale equals life! Las Vegas has had a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis for decades. Today that sign is nothing more than a meaningless icon of the past. Recently, Judge Joe Hardy, a Clark County district judge, ruled that the Nevada Board of Pharmacy classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance violated the State Constitution, saying the “agency exceeded its authority.”

Nevada, aka the Silver State, just announced a silver lining to cannabis consumption: Las Vegas will allow cannabis lounges. The region’s seven-member city council made this decision on March 1. The vote was followed by many who were in attendance. Many cannabis business owners and landlords in Las Vegas’ art district were hoping that the seven-member city council would not approve the rule requiring cannabis lounges to be at least 1,000 feet apart from one another.

While the news of allowing cannabis lounges is good news, the lack of ability to put them close together has dampened the hopes of creating an Amsterdam-like environment in Las Vegas for now. This doesn’t mean that hopes of a Las Vegas version of Amsterdam aren’t on the horizon. The ordinance of cannabis lounges maintaining a 1,000-foot distance from one another can be challenged and most likely will.

A cannabis lounge licensee advocate named Paul Murad told Cannabis Business Times, “It would have been a very small risk for the city, and now it’s a big risk for licensees and for property owners who had this opportunity of a ‘New Amsterdam.’ It could have been a new tourist destination that could have had millions of people coming here to Las Vegas, and instead, we’re making it more challenging.” Let’s take a look at Nevada’s cannabis laws.

Las Vegas Cannabis Lounge Laws

Las Vegas will allow cannabis lounges as long as they meet certain conditions. Regulation state that cannabis lounges must be located at least:

  • 1,000 feet away from schools
  • 300 feet away from churches, parks, family or group care facilities and recreational centers
  • 1,500 feet away from businesses with at least 16 slot machines or fewer slot machines coupled with sports betting or any other game

The seven-member city council also voted in favor of an ordinance that allows people to smoke cannabis and consume edibles outdoors.

Olivia Diaz, one of the seven council members who approved the ordinance for cannabis lounges in Las Vegas, said, “We are affording our tourists in people who want to go and consume marijuana a responsible way to do so.” Cannabis may be legal in Nevada and Las Vegas, but places to consume it are few and far between unless you’re a state resident. Even then, consumption rules can prohibit you from legally enjoying a legal substance.

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Some landlords do not allow smoking, and that includes cannabis. Cannabis cannot be consumed in public places. Las Vegas does not have the same rules that New York does, where you can smoke cannabis anywhere you can smoke a cigarette. You can’t just walk down the strip smoking a joint, but you can walk down the strip smoking a cigarette. These are weird times.

Cannabis Laws in Nevada

Cannabis wasn’t always accepted in Nevada. In 2016, voters across the state voted in favor of Ballot Question 2, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana. On Jan. 1, 2017, Nevada legalized the possession, consumption, and purchase of recreational cannabis for adults in the state.

According to the Nevada State website:

“Adults 21 years of age or older legally consume cannabis, but with restrictions on where it can be consumed: You cannot use cannabis in any public place. You cannot use cannabis in a moving vehicle, even if you’re a passenger. Adults 21 and older with a valid state-issued ID are allowed to purchase and possess up to 1 oz (28 grams) of cannabis. They are also allowed to purchase an eighth (3.5 grams) of cannabis concentrates.”

In the state of Nevada, you can basically have an ounce of flower and an eighth of concentrates. If you happen to have more than an ounce on you, you can receive a max fine of $600 and a misdemeanor charge. Public consumption can also land you a misdemeanor charge and a max fine of up to $600. You are allowed to gift up to 1 ounce of cannabis or an eighth of concentrates.

Sale and delivery of over 1 ounce of cannabis up to 100 pounds is a felony on the first offense, with 1 to 4 years of incarceration and a max fine of $5,000. Cultivating cannabis without a medical card is a felony and can land you 1 to 4 years of incarceration and a max fine of $5,000. The state does participate in civil asset forfeiture, meaning property and vehicles can be seized. If you would like to learn more about cannabis possession limits and laws in the state of Nevada, be sure to visit NORML. Remember, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

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