With the debut of The Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada and the growing updates for entertainment and tourism, officials are slowly moving forward with consumption lounge license approval. On July 25, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) approved the state’s first conditional license for a stand-alone cannabis consumption lounge.
The first winning license belongs to LA Lounge LLC, which is the first independent company that’s not connected to a dispensary. According to KTNV Las Vegas, the owners don’t have a location picked out yet, but once they do it will need to be inspected by the CCB before beginning operation. Once a business receives a license, they have one year to get things up and running.
The first round of consumption lounge licenses were approved in June, which included Planet 13 and Thrive Cannabis Marketplace in Clark County, and The Venue at SoL Cannabis in Washoe County. These businesses could see their consumption lounges open up by the end of 2023, if they receive final approval from the CCB. “We get asked about it daily by most customers,” said David Farris, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Planet 13.
Recently, CCB Executive Director Tyler Klimas confirmed that things are progressing well. “It sounds like we will likely see some consumption lounges open by the end of the year, maybe some as soon as October,” Klimas said, according to KTNV Las Vegas. At the most recent meeting, the CCB also adopted new regulations for air ventilation requirements that are supposed to make it easier for applicants to comply with.
Another prospective license owner, Chandler Cooks, attended the July 25 meeting. He told KTNV Las Vegas that he plans to open a lounge called Moulin Noir in downtown Las Vegas. “We already submitted everything that is required of us, so we are hoping to be at the next CCB meeting and get the conditional license,” Cooks said. “Ideally, we would like to be open by January. We want to beat the curve for Super Bowl.” The next CCB meeting will be held on August 22 for more potential licenses to be granted.
Consumption lounges were approved in June 2022. Prior to that, visitors and residents could only consume cannabis within a private residence. Forty conditional licenses were approved last fall. “We will do sit down interviews and make sure we understand their ownership structure and their business plan and then they will come in front of the board and the board will determine them suitable or not to proceed to perfecting their license,” Klimas said at the time.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported in January that 38.8 million people visited Las Vegas in 2022. While the state of Nevada stands to benefit greatly from its consumption lounges, other states have also been progressing with public consumption locations as well.
In California, consumption lounges are in full swing in places like San Francisco, which has a rich history with lounges during its early medical cannabis era. Alaska adopted early rules for consumption lounges in 2018, and the first one opened in 2021. Colorado started accepting license applications back in 2021, and so far there are a few private lounges that are currently available.
Other states such as Massachusetts have approved social consumption programs but have not yet finalized plans. Most recently in June and July, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) held listening sessions for social consumption “to hear from stakeholders prior to drafting new policies. After draft regulations are prepared and published, there will be notice of a formal public comment period as an opportunity to provide additional feedback.”
In May, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Bruce Stebbins explained that the state’s pilot program would be “burdensome and expensive” and the CCC scrapped it in favor of a more streamlined process.