Recreational marijuana was legalized in Nevada last year. Now, the Silver State wants to become the first state in the U.S. to have marijuana lounges.
Per a decision by Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau, current recreational marijuana legalization laws do not have an explicit prohibition on marijuana lounges or similar facilities. Cities and counties are authorized to create rules and regulations for businesses to open the pot spots.
The Bureau’s opinion opens the door for Nevada tourists to smoke pot in public. However, hotels and casinos continue to be excluded.
Marijuana legalization supporters see pot lounges as an obvious next step and a potential boost for the tourism industry.
“Allowing regulated social use areas is a good solution that recognizes cannabis consumers’ rights to congregate just like alcohol drinkers can in bars while also protecting nonconsumers’ rights not to inhale secondhand smoke,” said Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell, as reported by The Hill. “It should be a no brainer, especially in tourist towns like Las Vegas where visitors don’t have private residences they can go back to imbibe.”
While many are excited to see the possibility of marijuana lounges in Nevada, Governor Brian Sandoval does not support the Bureau’s decision. Without specific language in the law, local governments will create confusion, as rules will vary widely when pot lounges begin to pop up all over the state.
Earlier this year, Senator Tick Segerblom introduced legislation to legalize marijuana smoking in public across the state. Senate Bill 236 was written to permit certain places, like restaurants and bars, to decide themselves if weed smoking would be allowed for customers. However, the legislation did not pass. Gov. Sandoval questions why the bill went to vote in the first place if Nevada’s law already allows consuming weed in public.
Kevin Sabet, head of the anti-legalization group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, thinks marijuana lounges will only increase crime.
“Data show that areas around marijuana stores have higher crime and issues with second-hand smoke and other nuisances. I can’t imagine pot clubs will be a good thing for the state.”
Current U.S. law does not allow marijuana use. Smoking or consuming cannabis either for medical or recreational purposes is a crime. While the federal government has mostly left states with legal marijuana laws alone, some in the cannabis industry fear this may change soon.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been very vocal about his opposition to marijuana legalization and is likely to start dismantling state cannabis laws. Now that Nevada has recreational marijuana, the state has contacted the U.S. Justice Department to ask for advice on how to handle the issue.
Recreational marijuana is also legal in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, but each restricts cannabis use to inside private residences. So far, none allow for cannabis lounges. California, Massachusetts, and Maine are still working on rules for legal recreational weed, but they do not intend to approve marijuana lounges.
[Featured Image by Kael Alford/Getty Images]