Recreational marijuana sales kicked off in Las Vegas nearly four years ago. Yet the city’s 40 million annual tourists still have nowhere to legally use the plant.
An ultimatum is finally coming this week for consumption lounges in a long-planned move to open up venues where patrons can smoke a joint, rip a bong, vaporize a dab, or do just about anything else you can think of with the plant.
Assembly Bill 341 would pave the way for an unlimited number of lounges to open across the state, in cities like Las Vegas where local governments allow cannabis businesses. After being approved by one-half of the Nevada Legislature last week, the bill will need approval from the Senate and Nevada governor by the end of the lawmaking session on Tuesday.
“We’re at the finish line and we’re ready to get this going,” said Steve Yeager, the Democrat Assemblyman sponsor of the bill. “It’s long overdue and we have the chance to make it happen now.”
Several adult-use states, including California, Colorado and Massachusetts, have let a limited number of CBD and marijuana lounges open. Michigan and Alaska have also given the thumbs up to consumption venues in recent months.
But none of the other states’ lounges would come close to the scale that Yeager and company have planned for Sin City.
“You could open up a lounge and actually sell the product to your customers,” he explained. “Or you could have product delivered from a dispensary. It gives places the option, if marijuana isn’t your main business, like if you’re a nail salon or a barber shop or a comedy club, for example.”
Nevada officials estimate the lounges could raise up to $25 million in new tax revenue and licensing fees in the first year, adding to the $150 million and climbing the state already rakes each year from the industry. A sizeable chunk of that money, some 60 percent, goes to Nevada’s public schools — which annually rank dead-last in the United States.
This year’s legislative session is the third straight session in which Democrats in Nevada have proposed to legalize the lounges. A handful of setbacks, including political meddling from Sin City’s gaming industry and disagreements between state and local officials, have stopped the bills from moving forward in previous years.
AB341 is the closest any lounge bill has come to get the governor’s signature. And this week, Yeager hopes, it’ll be signed into law.