News - March 5, 2021 - by Ray Hagar
The chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee said on Nevada Newsmakers that marijuana lounges may soon be legalized, finally giving tourists a safe and legal place to consume cannabis products sold in Nevada.
"I hope we can do it," Judiciary Committee Chair Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, told host Sam Shad. "I've invited all manners of feedback on how we can accomplish this in a way that is fair and makes sense, protects public safety and generates revenue."
Currently, Nevada law only allows cannabis consumption in homes, which leaves out tourists. Gaming properties do not allow cannabis in the casino or hotel rooms, although some tourists have broken that mandate.
Nevada's gaming industry has kept its distance from cannabis partially because marijuana is still listed as an illegal substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
The marijuana-lounge debate has been a topic at the Legislature since 2017, when cannabis products became legal in Nevada. Now, however, Yeager is leading the charge since the godfather of Nevada cannabis laws, former state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has moved from the state senate to the Clark County Commission.
"LCB legal (Legislative Counsel Bureau) has come up with some concepts we brought up to start working on drafting," Yeager said. "Those concepts include allowing existing dispensaries to open up a lounge if they want to but not requiring it. And then (we're considering) potentially licensing stand-alone businesses to operate as consumption lounges.
"There are certainly some things we have to figure out, like how does the product get there and what is the business model that make sense for a place to open up," Yeager said. "But we are finally getting to the point where everyone agrees that it seems we need to do this but the devil is always in the details."
Yeager wants to see Nevada's Cannabis Compliance Board, which oversees Nevada's marijuana industry, to take a leading role on the issue of cannabis lounges.
"I think the Cannabis Compliance Board will be a big player in this," Yeager said. "What I would like to do is set up a structure and have them fill in the details because they are going to be the day-to-day agency.
"But so far, I think people are open to the concept and those who don't like cannabis, they realize that we can't continue to operate this way when we have 40 million tourists coming to Las Vegas and no where to consume. It's just not practical."