Las Vegas Sun

November 15, 2018

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Las Vegas seeks public input on marijuana lounges

Less than four months after Las Vegas said it wouldn’t consider allowing public marijuana consumption lounges until at least 2019, city officials are again entertaining the idea.

The city is asking for public input on pot lounges during a workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday in City Council chambers, 495 S. Main St.

“We want to have a discussion and get the ball rolling again,” city spokesman Jace Radke said.

City officials held a similar workshop in December to discuss a proposed ordinance to open public lounges for adults 21 and over to consume legal quantities of marijuana.

The previously proposed ordinance would also permit lounge owners to obtain separate licenses to sell marijuana paraphernalia, such as pipes and bongs, and potentially serve food, as long it did not contain marijuana.

Pot lounges have been viewed within the industry as the answer to a hole in current state regulations covering legal recreational marijuana.

While adults can legally purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana flower or an eighth of an ounce of THC concentrate, consumption is prohibited outside of private residences. That includes casinos, parks and everywhere on the Strip and downtown, leaving an estimated 42 million annual tourists without a place to legally use marijuana.

While state law does not explicitly grant permission for marijuana consumption lounges, Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said in a September 2017 letter to then-state Sen. Tick Segerblom that lounges would be permitted on the local level as long as marijuana was not being used unlawfully.

The city’s initial ordinance seemed to be gaining momentum last year with the support of prominent marijuana industry leaders. But a Jan. 5 memorandum from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that ordered U.S. attorneys in pot-legal states to ignore Obama-era rules that protected states from federal intervention clouded the waters.

The city said people can RSVP to attend the event by phone at 702-229-6281 or by email at [email protected]. Those who do not RSVP can still participate, but attendance will be capped at 600 people.