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Cannabis Lounges Could Make Vegas the Weed Tourism Capital

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Cannabis Lounges Could Make Vegas the Weed Tourism Capital

Adult-use cannabis lounges could be a game changer for Nevada’s already booming tourism economy. A new ruling seems to clear the way for that, but it has opposition in high places.

Nevada’s legal cannabis market was practically born on the Fourth of July, and there was no shortage of literal or figurative fireworks during that holiday weekend, which generated $3 million in sales revenue and saw dispensaries sell out of inventory — heightening the legal tension between the state and alcohol distributors and creating a “state of emergency.”

But while the distribution battle is likely to be resolved — if only by the passage of time and the eventual sunset of the clause restricting distribution rights — there is another cloud hanging over Nevada’s emerging adult-use cannabis market, and it’s not the fun kind: Under current law, there’s basically nowhere for tourists to smoke their legal weed.

That could all change now, thanks to a ruling by the Legislative Counsel Bureau, a non-partisan legal resource and advisor to the legislature.

As local media in the state is reporting, this could have major implications for a state that’s heavily reliant on tourism for revenue.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

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.

Democratic State Senator Tick Segerblom, who represents Las Vegas, has been a longtime advocate for legalization. The Review-Journal even calls him “Nevada’s godfather of pot.” He requested the legal opinion from the LCB and said he’s excited by their ruling.

“I really believe that Nevada can be the marijuana capital of the world,” Segerblom told the Review-Journal. “And this will be one more thing in our toolbox… this is what we’ve been waiting for — it’s fantastic.”

Segerblom’s request was a response to the failure of a cannabis lounge bill, which passed the Senate but died on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk.

Gov. Sandoval has not been supportive of the concept of cannabis lounges, and his official response to the LCB’s ruling was an expression of his misgivings, which include concerns about diversion and running afoul of federal guidelines.

From the Nevada Independent:

“I do not agree with the LCB opinion and believe that statutory authority is necessary to establish local marijuana smoking shops,” Sandoval said. “Our marijuana establishment licensing structure was built with the Cole Memo — the guidance provided by the Justice Department to state’s regarding regulation of marijuana — at the forefront in order to prevent diversion to minors, to control illegal drug activity and to ensure that marijuana does not cross state lines.”

But if Nevada can get all the political particulars pinned down, legal consumption lounges could mean a major influx of cannabis tourism to a state already enjoying a huge surge in interest about its adult-use market.

Proponents of legalization, like Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell, say that — beyond the economic opportunity for the state — it boils down to common sense, and told The Hill that the establishment of cannabis lounges is a “no-brainer.”

“Allowing regulated social use areas is a good solution that recognizes cannabis consumers’ rights to congregate just like alcohol drinkers can in bars while also protecting non-consumers’ rights not to inhale secondhand smoke,” he said. “It should be a no-brainer, especially in tourist towns like Las Vegas where visitors don’t have private residences they can go back to to imbibe”

TELL US, would you be more likely to visit Las Vegas if it had cannabis use lounges?

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