Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada, and of all the local governments, Las Vegas has the largest economy. The majority of the revenue generated by Las Vegas comes from tourists and now they are also coming for the marijuana. Casinos feel like they would be pushing the limit if they allowed marijuana into the hotels since there is still a federal prohibition on marijuana. Now, Nevada is saying that local governments have the right to allow cannabis cafes and it is up to them to decide if they are permissible. Will Las Vegas be the next Amsterdam?
An opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau released Monday said no state law prohibits local governments from permitting for marijuana consumption in businesses.
That means Nevadans and visitors could soon be able to light up a joint in pot-friendly lounges, cafes, yoga studios and possibly even at special events like the Electric Daisy Carnival.
“I really believe that Nevada can be the marijuana capital of the world,” said Nevada’s godfather of pot, state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas. “And this will be one more thing in our toolbox.”
Adults 21 and older have been able to legally buy marijuana in Nevada since July 1. But because casinos have been instructed not to allow marijuana use on their property, which would put their profitable gaming licenses at risk, most tourists have no legal option to consume it.
Andrew Jolley, CEO of The+Source dispensaries and president of the Nevada Dispensary Association, said the opinion is “a step in the right direction.”
“We have to be able to give tourists an option rather than a blanket statement that it’s just not allowed on the Strip,” he said.
But Jolley said it’s not just about tourists.
“We’ll be surprised at how many locals find value in these lounges,” he said. “Think about how many bars we have or wine tasting facilities and events. It’s crazy to think that marijuana is somehow different than that. It’s really not.”
Now the onus falls on local governments to decide whether they want to allow forms of public use within their borders.
Clark County, through its marijuana advisory panel, has discussed the prospects of marijuana lounges, including a pilot program that would allow dispensaries to let patrons smoke inside the shops. The panel is expected to meet next month, and Jolley said he expects the lounges to be a prime discussion topic.
Clark County commissioners will discuss the issue at their meeting next week, commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said.
“I do feel it is very important for the people who are coming from out of town, the tourists, which are a big contributor to the industry’s business, I’m told, to have a place where they can legally and safely consume the product,” he said.