A major change is coming to how Sin City handles one of its biggest indulgences.
Nevada has legal marijuana consumption and the city of Las Vegas has a number of dispensaries including some located just off the famed Las Vegas Strip. As a tourist, however, you can visit Planet 13 (PLNHF) , MedMen, or another dispensary near the Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report, and other major resorts on the Strip and make a purchase, but you can’t legally smoke cannabis in your hotel room.
In fact, it’s technically only legal to actually consume your legal marijuana in a private residence which isn’t all that useful for tourists. Basically, this has led to people smoking and vaping legally purchased marijuana in parking lots and fairly brazenly on the Las Vegas Strip.
That’s technically a crime, albeit one the police generally won’t enforce. It’s, however, a problem as the Las Vegas Strip’s big casino operators probably don’t want the city to smell of pot and the dispensaries would prefer to not be leading their customers into comitting a crime.
To solve the problem, Las Vegas will soon be home to legal cannabis consumption lounges. Kelsey Hanley, a cannabis compliance expert at Allay Consulting, did an email interview with TheStreet to explain what that might look like.
TheStreet: When and where will we actually see Las Vegas consumption lounges?
Hanley: Las Vegas consumption lounges may begin opening up before the end of the year, as long as the licensing process proceeds as expected this Fall with the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB). The lounges will either be located within an existing adult-use dispensary or in new independent lounges that will sell cannabis and cannabis products.
TheStreet: Are the casinos fighting these, as they can’t have them and it leads customers off-site?
Hanley: Casinos and hotels would be wise to welcome consumption lounges, as they will give tourists a legal place to smoke and consume cannabis. Under the current laws and regulations, casino and hotel patrons already have to go off-site to partake since using cannabis in public spaces is not allowed. Providing legal, safe, and inviting lounges for tourists to smoke and consume cannabis could increase overall tourism to Las Vegas, which in the long run would benefit the casinos.
TheStreet: Will most of these be associated with existing dispensaries?
Hanley: Existing adult-use dispensaries will have the option of adding a consumption lounge to their premise, but it’s hard to say if we’ll see more dispensaries that will add a lounge or more independent lounges that open up. The license fees for independent lounges are much less than the license for a dispensary to add a lounge, so that may also be a factor.
TheStreet: Are there limits on what a consumption lounge can be? (Can they serve food? Alcohol?)
Hanley: Consumption lounges will serve more than you may expect, but will have some limits. At the lounges you’ll be able to smoke, vape, eat, dab, or use topicals. The lounges will sell single-use portions of cannabis and products such as flower, concentrates, edibles, capsules, tinctures, topicals, and transdermal patches. Additionally, with prior approval from the CCB, lounges will be able to prepare and sell infused foods and beverages that have up to 10 mg THC per serving.
Lounges will be restricted in the amount of cannabis and cannabis products they can serve, as each transaction will be limited to specific amounts that are listed in the regulations. This is in line with how bars operate: patrons order one drink at a time instead of ordering a bottle and pouring it themselves. Lounges will not be able to serve alcohol, nicotine, or tobacco.
TheStreet: What else do you think tourists need to know?
Hanley: Additional points of interest for tourists:
- Adult Use Only: Lounges will be restricted to patrons who are 21 years of age or older.
- Start Slow: If you’re newer to cannabis use, always remember to start slow and be careful not to overindulge. Be sure to talk to the lounge operator about your experience level with cannabis and what your needs are. The lounges can also sell CBD products that don’t contain THC and low-dose THC products, so there will be other options if you don’t want the full psychoactive effects of THC.
- Health Risk: Be aware that you may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the smoking room.
- Non-Public Locations: The lounges will be required to be shielded from public view, so don’t expect to be partaking on a patio next to The Strip.
- No Offsite Consumption: Cannabis and cannabis products will need to be consumed on-site only and cannot be taken off premises.
Federal law makes it illegal for casino operators like Caesars and MGM from having consumption lounges on their property.
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