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June 17, 2019

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Amendment removes right of counties to license marijuana lounges

Harvest

Chris Kudialis

Harvest’s marijuana consumption lounge, pictured on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. The lounge, located next to the company’s dispensary in west San Francisco, is one of three such open-to-the-public facilities where pot buyers can legally consume the plant.

Updated Friday, May 24, 2019 | 3:08 p.m.

CARSON CITY — The governor’s bill creating a Cannabis Compliance Board to oversee the legal marijuana industry advanced through committee today, carrying with it an amendment removing the ability of counties to grant consumption lounge licenses, pending further study.

The bill, sponsored by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office, originally gave counties the right to grant marijuana lounge licenses while following guidelines created by the board. The amendment strips that section, calling for further study.

“The law would simply remain the status quo in terms of public consumption,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas. Under the current law, marijuana can only be consumed at private residences.

Helen Kalla, a spokeswoman for Sisolak, said the governor wants to address the issue of consumption lounges “the right way (rather) than the quick way.”

“The governor believes that consumption lounges have a place in the future of Nevada’s rapidly growing cannabis industry and looks forward to the work that the CCB will do in the interim to ensure that this part of the industry is well-positioned to add to the job creation and economic growth our cannabis industry has brought to the state,” she said.

The amendment would require the Cannabis Compliance Board to undertake a study of consumption lounges to determine how far they should be from schools and other business, licensing and registration processes, and liability issues, among other things.

The study must be submitted to the Legislative Council Bureau by Jan. 1 and would be available to lawmakers in the next legislative session.

The only municipality that has tackled the issue of marijuana lounges so far is the city of Las Vegas, which voted recently to allowing licensing. It was not clear how the proposed legislation would affect the city’s licensing process.

A city of Las Vegas spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, a longtime advocate for marijuana lounges, said a decision to delay addressing marijuana lounges would hurt the industry, because the lounges would open up the business to tourists.

“The Legislature has a right to do what they want to do, but it’s shocking to me,” he said.

Segerblom said he wasn’t sure why the issue was so difficult to tackle, pointing to other places that have approved lounges.

“They’re doing it all around the country ... It’s not that complicated,” he said.

The bill will now head to the Assembly floor, with a little more than a week left in the session.