Nevada’s local governments have the green light to license certain businesses that want to allow marijuana consumption on-site, according to an opinion released Sunday by the Legislative Counsel Bureau. Businesses may establish lounges at which patrons can consume marijuana, and municipalities may create ordinances that require those businesses to purchase a license to do so. The privilege would also extend to events and concerts. The opinion, requested by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, noted that marijuana consumption must be in compliance with the state law, which limits the possession amount to an ounce of marijuana or an eighth-ounce of concentrate.
Consumption within the facility cannot be visible to the public, nor can it be open to anyone under the age of 21. “You can be a lounge, you could be a concert. There are hotels that are talking about catering to marijuana, they could be Air BnBs, clubs, rock concerts, coffee shops. The imagination has no limitation,” said Segerblom. During this summer’s legislative session, Segerblom’s Senate Bill 236, which would have given a business the right to allow marijuana consumption on the premises, failed. Segerblom was hopeful that the bill would pass considering much of the industry is expected to be fueled by the state’s 43 million tourists each year. For instance, one dispensary told Segerblom that, during the weekend of the arts festival, Burning Man, more than 4,000 people visited the store.
While smoking weed may not be OK at Burning Man because it’s on federal land, the organization could apply for a permit from the local government, Pershing County, to allow marijuana consumption in an enclosed space on-site, Segerblom said. “Nevadans have spoken. Right now we’re encouraging people to purchase pot, but there’s no place to use it. Plus, you can’t take it home,” Segerblom said. While the opinion could help tourists find places to smoke and eat edibles, not all of the challenges will be over for those seeking 420-friendly stays. Hotels, and any facilities with gambling on the grounds, will remain ineligible to allow marijuana consumption because they still have federal gaming licenses. A federal prohibition of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana still is in place, despite the legalization of marijuana in more than two dozen states.
Consumption at dispensaries remains illegal, according to the opinion, since state statutes explicitly list medical marijuana establishments and retail marijuana stores as places where marijuana cannot be consumed. While both city and county governments are cited in the opinion as having the right to move forward with “pot lounges,” some are hesitant to act yet. Trial and error is the best method to progress, Segerblom said. “Every local government should have their own attorney do their own evaluation, but (this opinion) is looked to as the gold standard of opinions in the state.
This carries a lot of weight,” Segerblom said. Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it he did not support pot lounges and wanted the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to look into the matter. City of Reno officials were not immediately available to answer whether they’ll consider having pot lounges within city limits, but officials with the city of Sparks said that their legal counsel likely would have to take a look at the opinion.