After some backlash from city officials, the Las Vegas City council has officially approved cannabis lounges within the confines of the city, making Las Vegas the first city in Nevada to do so.
A Landmark Decision
On Wednesday, officials voted 4-1 in favor of social lounges, a bill spearheaded by City Councilman Bob Coffin. Of the five officials who voted, the only one to vote “no” on the bill was Councilman Stavros Anthony, a retired Metro Police Captain. Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who claims her family has a small stake in the burgeoning recreational industry, abstained from the vote altogether.
Coffin’s Bill was originally introduced back in January but ultimately wasn’t approved due to a provision that would allow alcohol within the same premises. The bill was re-introduced in March and included stipulations which would disallow any alcohol on-site, as well as any outdoor smoking. The bill was still met with skepticism by Las Vegas gaming officials, who were worried about the proximity of the lounges from casinos.
The bill, in its final form, was ultimately approved by city officials on Wednesday, thanks largely in part to the plethora of restrictions outlined in the ordinance.
In addition to zoning requirements, which will require lounges to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, churches, and casinos, only established dispensaries can receive a license for on-site smoking in the first year of the bill. This, for now, only includes the 12 dispensaries currently in Las Vegas. New businesses will have to wait at least a year to apply for a license.
A Win for Everybody
The subject of social consumption lounges has been a somewhat controversial one. Colorado, who became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2014, didn’t open up a social lounge until just last March, when The Coffee Joint, a cannabis cafe, finally opened its doors in Denver.
People around the industry, however, see lounges as an integral part of the business model. As it stands, places that sell recreational cannabis, like Nevada, only allow their patrons to smoke weed in their own home. This creates a major need for tourists and out-of-towners who aren’t allowed to smoke on the street or in their own hotels. While the implementation of cannabis-friendly Airbnbs has somewhat alleviated this problem, the need for social consumption lounges is still very evident.
In addition to providing a legal spot for patrons to consume cannabis, potential tax revenue and the creation of jobs helps make social consumption spots a lucrative, if not totally necessary, addition to the industry.
“I think that by providing them a safe place, not only are you allowed to get a lot of tax revenue for this, but you’re also creating jobs,” Lindsey Mora, a representative of Cannabition, told the Las Vegas Sun back in March.
It’s a win for all parties involved.