Las Vegas has been preparing for the launch of cannabis consumption lounges for some time.
On March 1, the City Council approved the ordinance governing cannabis consumption lounges. Several cannabis stakeholders were in attendance, advocating for council members to change the distance requirements and licensing fees for consumption lounges, KTNV reported.
The City Council decided to keep the regulation that consumption lounges must not be within 1,000 feet of each other. While city leaders could waive this requirement with a City Council vote, it faced strong stakeholder opposition.
Opponents of the distance requirement argued that it would prevent “the downtown Arts District from developing a cluster of cannabis businesses that would form a destination similar to Amsterdam,” The Nevada Independent reported.
“It would’ve been a very small risk for the city, and now it’s a big risk for licensees and for property owners who had this opportunity of a ‘New Amsterdam,'” said Paul Murad, a cannabis lounge licensee advocate. “It could have been a new tourist destination that could’ve had millions of people coming here to Las Vegas, and instead, we’re making it more challenging.”
Others argued that it would make it difficult for operators to find real estate and, ultimately, create a barrier for them to succeed.
“We don’t have that for restaurants, bars, casinos. So why would we discriminate against cannabis venues?” said Tina Ulman, co-founder of the Chamber of Cannabis, a local non-profit. “Especially after cannabis consumers and the industry has done such a fantastic job at breaking stereotypes and stigmas, driving revenue for our state, driving tax dollars, increasing jobs, and just being a great member of the community.”
Victoria Seaman, a member of the City Council, told KTNV that requiring lounge owners to apply to waive that distance requirement gives the city more oversight of the lounges.
The regulations also state that lounges must be “1,000 feet away from schools, 300 feet away from churches, parks, family or group care facilities and recreational centers, and 1,500 feet away from businesses with at least 16 slot machines, or fewer slot machines coupled with sports betting or any other game,” according to The Nevada Independent. However, these distance requirements are nonwaivable.
While concerns remained about the city’s distance requirements, the City Council added an authorization to the ordinance to allow for smoking and consuming edibles outdoors. The council also dropped the social equity applicant fees from $2,500 to $1,500, according to the news outlet.