Cannabis Lounges Are Coming to Las Vegas—but Not the Strip

In October 2017, just a few months after legal cannabis sales kicked off in Nevada, dispensary owner John Mueller sat down with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for an hourlong chat about the next step forward for cannabis in the Silver State.

“We had over 40 million tourists coming to Las Vegas, a growing number of them buying marijuana, and absolutely nowhere for them to legally use it,” Mueller said. “People were consuming illegally on the streets, in their cars, parking garages, and hotel rooms.”

Cannabis customers, Mueller told the sheriff, needed a place to legally consume.

More than 18 months after that early meeting, Mueller took his plea to the Las Vegas City Council this week. Nevada’s Legislature had axed a bill to permit state-licensed cannabis lounges, so it was up to city officials to give the green light.

“We want to get in a controlled environment,” he explained. “We’ve got to give people a legal way to go out and consume something we’re selling to them and we’re collecting taxes on.”

His mission was a success. After a slew of public meetings, council workshops, and hearings over the past year and a half, the City Council on Wednesday voted 4–1 to approve an ordinance allowing cannabis lounges.

The 11-page final ordinance, amended several times since it was first proposed in December 2017, allows for on-premises food and non-alcoholic beverage sales. The lounges themselves are required to be separate indoor facilities—no windows or outdoor access—and can’t be located within a cannabis retail space. To appease the resort and gaming industry, which began lobbying late in the process, lounges can’t be located within 1,000 feet of a Las Vegas property that offers gaming. Just about everything else is fair play.

Local licensing for the lounges will be

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