Cannabis industry talks high hopes for pot lounges

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new bill introduced by Nevada lawmakers would allow the creation of so-called “pot lounges,” where people could consume cannabis products.

Since 2017, locals and tourists have been going to Nevada dispensaries to buy recreational marijuana. The catch? They must go to a private place, such as someone’s house, to consume it. Pot lounges would provide a different option.

State lawmakers have discussed pot lounges in the past, but legislation never moved forward. Assembly Bill 341 (AB 341) was recently introduced during the 2021 legislation session in Carson City, Nevada, and proponents are hoping it becomes law.

Planet 13 is the world’s largest marijuana dispensary. Located just off the Las Vegas Strip, locals and tourists alike flock there to find and purchase the perfect product. But even with all the room they have, customers cannot consume their cannabis there.

“Las Vegas has been asking this for a long time,” said David Farris, vice president of sales and marketing for Planet 13.

Nevada law states cannabis can only be used in private spaces, but Farris says Planet 13 is ready to have a pot lounge.

“A consumption facility that’s safe for our customers and really adds on to the experience, where you can watch products being made, you can buy products at our facility, and then you can also safely consume,” he explained.

Customers like the concept.

“Hang out with your friends, also just enjoy the products without having to travel and wait to do it; you can just go ahead and crack it open,” said tourist Alexis Harvey.

Now, AB 341 could make that a reality.

Assemblyman Steve Yeager of Clark County recently introduced the bill. It would establish pot lounges as part of dispensaries or as free-standing businesses. Although lawmakers have tried this before, they are more confident this time around.

“The time’s just right, and the momentum is right,” Yeager said. “We have the Cannabis Compliance Board now, which is the regulatory agency for the cannabis industry. I think they’re going to have a large role to play in helping us make this happen.”

If the bill becomes law, it will be up to local jurisdictions to decide whether they want to implement it.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom supports AB 341, but he says he sees room for improvement.

“The bill as it’s currently written is a little restrictive,” the commissioner said. “I would like to see us local jurisdictions have more freedom, as far as the kinds of lounges we license.”

But Segerblom says the bill is a good first step:

“We can work with it. Once we do it, then I think we’re going to… be the world leader.”

Farris says Planet 13 would need to construct their pot lounge as an extension of their existing facility but adds that they are prepared to do that. He hopes to see pot lounges get the green light in the Silver State.

“We think it’s something that’s necessary in Las Vegas,” Farris said. “I think it’s the right thing to do to allow our local and tourist customers to consume cannabis products.”

Some have expressed concern about people at pot lounges becoming too high and then getting behind the wheel, stating that there could be public safety implications. Yeager says those concerns are valid, but there will likely be measures put in place to ensure safety.

“As we work through the legislation, we need to make sure that we do this responsibly,” the assemblyman stressed. “We have a good model when it comes to alcohol. We allow alcohol consumption in bars, clubs and restaurants, but people have been trained to be able to identify the signs of somebody who is partaking too much.”

Yeager also points to the many rideshare options available for customers to safely get home.

AB 341 has been introduced, and lawmakers are currently receiving input on it to make any tweaks, as necessary. The next step is a hearing within the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Yeager tells 8 News Now that will likely happen in the next couple weeks.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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