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Week in Review: Las Vegas Opens First Cannabis Consumption Lounge

Las Vegas consumption lounge
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Current Events

Week in Review: Las Vegas Opens First Cannabis Consumption Lounge

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Las Vegas opens first cannabis consumption lounge; Virginia moves toward adult-use cannabis retail market with new legislation; US Virgin Islands advances adult-use cannabis law with proposed regulations; and a new study finds Canadian cannabis legalization isn’t tied to psychotic episodes.

Smoke and Mirrors Las Vegas consumption lounge
The interior of Smoke & Mirrors, the first cannabis consumption lounge in Las Vegas. PHOTO Lee Pettet/Smoke & Mirrors

Las Vegas Opens First Cannabis Consumption Lounge

Nevada’s journey into regulated cannabis consumption reaches a milestone as Smoke and Mirrors, the inaugural licensed cannabis lounge near the Las Vegas Strip, officially opens its doors. The lounge is the first of 19 conditionally approved consumption lounges in the Silver State.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom commemorated the occasion by conducting the first sale within the lounge at 4:20 p.m. According to Segerblom, there has been a critical need for public spaces for cannabis use, particularly for tourists and residents navigating restrictive county laws.

“The reality is you could buy it, but you can’t use it in the dispensary and if you’re a tourist, you can’t use it. There’s no home to use it at,” Segerblom said. “This is the first time we’ve ever actually used it publicly for anybody. Right now, if I walked down the street, even though I’m a Nevada resident, if I use it, that’s a misdemeanor. So now we can actually use it visibly.”

With Nevada already collecting $15 million in tax revenue from dispensaries, Segerblom anticipates a further annual influx of $3 to $4 million following the opening of each of the 19 licensed lounges. 

Virginia State Capitol
Virginia State Capitol. PHOTO Martin Kraft

Virginia Moves Toward Adult Use Cannabis Retail Market with New Legislation

Virginia legislators approved new legislation aimed at establishing a retail market for adult-use cannabis, pending approval from Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin. 

The proposed bills outline a timeline for accepting applications for various aspects of the industry, including cultivation, testing, processing and sales, with the market expected to open by May 1, 2025. Products sold in this market would be subject to up to 11.625% taxes.

Del. Paul Krizek, representing Fairfax County, emphasized the importance of creating a responsible and regulated retail market for cannabis in Virginia.

“It’s time to give Virginia’s $3 billion illicit market a run for its money. And it’s time to give Virginians access to a safe, tested and taxed product,” Krizek said.

Virginia made history in 2021 by becoming the first Southern state to legalize cannabis for personal use among adults aged 21 and older. However, the absence of a regulated retail market has allowed illicit sales to continue, prompting the recent legislative efforts to address this issue.

US Virgin Islands
PHOTO SeanPavonePhoto

US Virgin Islands Advances Adult-use Cannabis Law with Proposed Regulations

The US Virgin Islands took significant strides forward on Tuesday regarding the stalled adult-use cannabis law, as an advisory board approved proposed regulations governing cannabis use in the territory.

The law permits adults aged 21 and older to possess limited amounts of cannabis for adult-use, sacramental and other purposes, while medical cannabis patients enjoy extended possession allowances. Dispensary sales will be subject to an 18% tax, with a significant portion earmarked for behavioral health, homelessness and youth programs, underscoring the law’s commitment to community investment.

Led by Dr. Catherine Kean, the board’s chairperson, the approval signals a pivotal move towards the enactment of legislation passed over a year ago, opening doors for adult-use cannabis consumption across the islands. With a forthcoming 30-day public comment period on the proposed regulations, community engagement is set to play a crucial role in shaping the final framework.

Additionally, the board is also addressing criminal justice reform, compiling a list of individuals eligible for expungement of prior cannabis possession charges. Positive Nelson, a board member, emphasized the importance of rectifying past injustices, particularly for the approximately 300 individuals convicted of simple cannabis possession over the past two decades.

As part of the regulatory framework, plans are underway to establish a registration system, enabling access to cannabis for medical and sacramental purposes by April. Further financial considerations include registration fees for religious organizations and medical practitioners, while businesses await the opportunity to register for cultivation and manufacturing licenses, expected by mid to late-year.

Canada flag and cannabis leaf
PHOTO rgbspace

Study: Canadian Cannabis Legalization Not Tied to Psychotic Episodes

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry recently published data indicating that the legalization of the Canadian cannabis market did not lead to an increase in cannabis-related psychotic episodes.

Researchers evaluated the frequency of cannabis-related psychotic incidents requiring hospitalization in the twelve months before and after legalization in October 2018. Their findings revealed no significant increase in the proportion of emergency department consultations for psychotic episodes associated with cannabis consumption post-legalization.

In the US, state-level cannabis legalization laws have also not been linked to a statistically significant increase in psychosis-related health outcomes. A 2022 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open found no association between cannabis legalization and overall rates of psychosis-related diagnoses or prescribed antipsychotics.

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