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Cannabis lounges legalized: What comes next?

CARSON CITY — Some four years after Nevada saw its first legal marijuana sales, locals and tourists alike will soon be able to consume it in legal cannabis lounges.

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday signed Assembly Bill 341, which gives the state Cannabis Compliance Board the authority to license and regulate cannabis consumption lounges.

Since legal cannabis sales started in Nevada in July 2017, tourists, and even some renters, have found themselves in a conundrum: they could purchase marijuana legally, but there’s been no where for them to consume it. That’s because the law approved by voters in 2016 said that marijuana could only be consumed inside a private residence.

But with lounges coming online possibly as early as this fall, that problem will soon be solved, said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill.

And it gives tourists just one more reason to visit Las Vegas, he added.

“I think this really solidifies us as the cannabis destination,” Yeager said.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who led the initial attempt to legalize lounges as a state senator in 2017, said the new law is a “game changer.”

“Consumption lounges are so perfect for our tourism industry,” Segerblom said. “The sooner we get out there, the more we’ll be looked upon as a marijuana-friendly city and state.”

The state cannabis board will be tasked with crafting regulations to determine how lounges would operate. But the law gives a pretty good preview.

What will these lounges look like?

The new law sets up two different types of lounges: ones that will attached or directly adjacent to an existing dispensary and separate, independent consumption lounges.

Some lounges will likely will have a bar-like set up, where customers 21 and older would be able to buy single-use or ready-to-consume marijuana products inside the lounge and consume it on-site.

But there will be some flexibility for prospective owners who want to be creative with their lounge. Concepts like cafes with cannabis-infused products or marijuana-friendly yoga studios, comedy clubs and even massage parlors could be possible.

Initially, there will be 20 licenses given out for the independent lounge licenses. There is no hard cap for the dispensary-associated lounges, but ownership groups will only be allowed to have a single consumption lounge license. For example, if a company has three dispensaries, it could only have one lounge.

When will they open?

It will be several months before we see lounges open under the new law.

AB341 goes into effect on Oct. 1, and Yeager said that it will likely take time for the cannabis board to get the regulations put together and in place. Prospective lounge owners will also have to go through the local licensing processes as well, which could add to that timeframe.

Segerblom said that he is going to work with the county to make sure that its ordinance lines up with the state to “make sure we’re ready to go.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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