While marijuana legalization is now taking hold in a growing number of states across the country, very few jurisdictions allow people to consume the herb anywhere except for the privacy of their own home.
For those cannabis users living in these places, the attitude toward this issue is mostly “C’est la vie.” They are just happy the cops aren’t going to kick down their doors anymore. But in spots where toker tourism is thriving on the heels of legalization, not having any designated areas for patrons to consume legal weed is problematic.
Not only does it encourage cannabis consumers to break the law by smoking weed in public areas, it also puts them at risk of getting slapped with a hefty hotel cleaning bill if they fire one up in their room. It’s an issue that Las Vegas officials are hoping they can remedy before the end of the summer travel season.
It was just this spring that the Las Vegas City Council approved a measure that would allow cannabis lounges to open up in Sin City. This is a first for Nevada.
Although the state legalized the leaf for recreational consumption back in 2016, coming complete with a provision giving local governments the option of allowing public consumption sites, no other jurisdiction — not even those with legal brothels — has made a move to bring cannabis lounges to fruition.
But then again, it makes sense for Vegas — a place that sees 39 million tourists every year — to christen social pot use. After all, if it can work in Vegas, it can work anywhere. At least most think so.
The bill, which was sponsored by Councilman Bob Coffin, passed by a vote of 4-1. The only opposing force on the matter was Councilman Stavros Anthony — a retired captain of the Metropolitan Police Department — who doesn’t believe the city should operate any different than the state.
The measure allows around 20 or so cannabis lounges to open citywide. These establishments must be at least 1,000 feet away from schools and casinos and at least 300 feet away from churches. Of course, per state law, only patrons 21 and older will be allowed to set foot in these places. And unlike a bar setting, which serves alcohol, none of the lounges will be permitted to sell marijuana. It’s a Bring Your Own Weed type of situation. However, the lounges can sell paraphernalia, so it’s not like patrons have to bring along their own stoner arsenal to use these facilities.
And no, there’s no alcohol permitted. Although the council did discuss the possibility of allowing booze sales in these establishments, the idea was nixed from the final deal.
As it stands, only Alaska,Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California have some type of law allowing cannabis lounges.
Vegas officials think it could take a few months before cannabis lounges are licensed and ready to go.
For those patrons looking to catch a buzz before hitting up the casinos along the strip, watch out. Last year, the Nevada Gaming Commission amended its rule on gambling while intoxicated to include marijuana.
This means if a person is “noticeably intoxicated” (they’ll be looking at your eyes), they could risk being tossed out. “We want to make it crystal-clear across the board under all regulations that ‘impairment’ is not just alcohol; it’s being impaired by drugs,” said NGA Chairman Tony Alamo.
So, it might not be a bad idea for the city’s newfound cannabis lounges to also sell Visine and sunglasses.
Mike Adams is a contributing writer at The Fresh Toast. The Alaska Cannabist has partnered with The Fresh Toast, a lifestyle and entertainment platform featuring coverage of cannabis, culture, comedy, food, drink, edibles and more.