No city in the country has officially opened a marijuana lounge or a place where you can legally smoke marijuana other than your home. Many in Las Vegas want their city to be the first.
Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana almost a year ago, and cannabis stores started selling pot this summer, which was almost no time compared to other states like California who still haven’t been able to open stores for public consumption. Maybe because most of the politicians there are such good friends with their weed connect and they’d feel bad about putting them out of business so quickly.
The obvious benefit for pot lounges in Las Vegas is for tourists. Currently, tourists can buy marijuana, but they have nowhere to consume it unless they have a local friend whose home is 4/20 friendly. And even then, they’ll most likely just rip and dip and then hit the strip. And that’s not cool.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board, one of the most powerful state government bodies, has taken a hard stance on marijuana. The board has said dispensaries, any future lounges and consumption of any kind can’t be near any gaming. Some tourists might be disappointed they can’t smoke on the Strip or at a comedy show in the Silver Legacy, but this rule will only help local businesses. Tourists will be forced to go off the Strip and away from Downtown Reno to buy and consume. But, these prospects are still undecided due to some political disagreements.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has been skeptical of marijuana lounges from the start. Nevada’s “King of Pot” and State Senator Tick Segerblom tried to pass legislation legalizing lounges during this year’s legislative session, but it was vetoed by the governor. Marijuana lounges seemed to be delayed for at least a little while.
Then, in a surprising and iffy legal move, the Legislative Counsel Bureau released an opinion last month declaring there was no state law barring local governments from permitting marijuana social clubs for their constituent businesses (based on language in the ballot measure). The pot community was psyched.
Dispensary and bar owners were all ready to deploy their bean bag chairs and Funyuns, and they already had Christopher Nolan’s psychological mind-bender Memento looped with the sound off on their televisions when the Clark County Commission said they would rather wait on the smoking lounges. Segerblom probably nearly swallowed his Venetian glass one-hitter Trailblazer he was so shocked.
Commissioners said Nevada should take its time rolling out these lounges. While being the first state to have such businesses is an exciting prospect, and the lounges would be a quick and obvious success, local officials said there’s no rush.
They said many questions are still unanswered like how the lounges are going to be operated, where they’re going to be located and where the weed is going to come from. Also, the fun-sucking Attorney General Jeff Sessions looms over the whole affair, threatening to punish free, liberal, recreational drug-friendly communities.
Sandoval seems to be influenced by the feds (last month, he said this quick action on lounges might invite federal scrutiny), and his decisions have wide support across state politics. But, the power to give the green light for green lounges still lies with local government. We’ll see if they can’t get those questions answered and get us and our friendly tourists some dope hangouts.