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July 22, 2018

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Las Vegas officials discuss possibility of marijuana lounges

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Jeff Chiu / AP

In this March 1, 2018, photo, Xavier Baskerville, left, smokes marijuana next to Rick Thompson in the smoking lounge at Barbary Coast Dispensary in San Francisco.

Las Vegas city officials on Wednesday discussed a proposed ordinance to allow licensed marijuana establishment operators to open lounges where adults could consume the plant.

Deputy City Attorney Bryan Scott said the ordinance would also permit lounge owners to obtain separate licenses to sell marijuana paraphernalia, such as pipes and bongs, and potentially serve food and alcohol, as long they did not contain weed.

The proposed 11-page ordinance calls for indoor-only consumption of marijuana, ruling out the idea of back porch or rooftop patios.

About 100 industry members, politicians and members of the public met Wednesday during a workshop on the matter at City Council chambers.

Up for debate was whether pot smokers should be required to present a dispensary receipt and sealed bag of marijuana before entering a lounge to ensure the weed was legally purchased. “All of this is very new to us, and we just want to be safe,” Scott said.

Some industry advocates, including at least five representatives of the Las Vegas branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the proposed ordinance was too restrictive and want smoking allowed outdoors, just like cigarettes.

Scott and Councilman Bob Coffin argued that the smell of marijuana is more distinct and stronger than that of tobacco and can produce more negative effects for people who inhale secondhand smoke. “You have to crawl before you can walk,” Scott said.