Las Vegas cannabis consumption lounges seemed to be just a around the corner, with the City Council signing off on the venues last month. But now a bill backed by Governor Steve Sisolak (D) that will put a two-year moratorium on licensing the establishments has passed through the Nevada Legislature.
Assembly Bill 533 passed the Assembly on May 30 by a vote of 39-1. The legislation received Senate support on Monday with a 14-6 vote. The measure now moves to engrossment where it will find Sisolak’s desk.
If the governor signs AB533 as expected, the legislation will authorize the five-member Cannabis Compliance Board, which Sisolak will be tasked with appointing. The agency will then review regulations to legalize Vegas weed lounges, but in the interim, a two-year moratorium on such businesses coming to realization will be imposed.
The governor believes that it’s better to address the issue of consumption lounges the right way than the quick way,” Sisolak spokeswoman Helen Kalla told reporters.
Sisolak supports such commercial establishments, saying last fall during his gubernatorial campaign, “Tourists visiting Las Vegas are permitted to purchase marijuana, but they can only consume the drug in private residences – not casino resort hotel rooms. These are issues we need to step up and address.”
The US government maintains cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic – the same classification as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The Drug Enforcement Administration says Schedule 1 drugs “are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
That, of course, is highly debatable when it comes to marijuana. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have legal medicinal use of cannabis. Recreational use of the drug is legal in 11 states including Nevada.
One project – Planet 13 – is a massive dispensary near the Strip where customers can buy (but not consume) cannabis and experience numerous immersive entertainment features. Planet 13’s co-CEO Bob Groesbeck wants to build a neighboring consumption lounge at the property.
“I don’t have any objection to looking at how lounges operate,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. “I have a strong objection to arbitrarily imposing a two-year moratorium without any guidelines on what they would study. This is just a delay tactic.”