Local officials in Las Vegas have waited so long to open marijuana lounges, they’re quoting Nelson Mandela to encourage patience from their constituents.
“It always seems impossible until it is done,” said Jacqueline Holloway, Clark County’s director of business development, borrowing a line from the late South African leader last week at a luncheon for Nevada’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group.
Since September 2017, Holloway – whose jurisdiction includes over 1 million residents in Southern Nevada including those living on the Las Vegas Strip – and leaders from the City of Las Vegas, a separate jurisdiction that includes the city’s downtown area, have entertained ideas to open the lounges.
Both jurisdictions say they want to contribute in making Las Vegas the third major U.S. city, after San Francisco and Denver, to allow special facilities for consumption of legal quantities of the plant. They just don’t know how to get there.
In the 2017 Nevada Legislature, former State Sen. Tick Segerblom proposed a bill that would allow local jurisdictions – like Clark County and the City of Las Vegas – to license the facilities on a municipal level. Licenses for other marijuana facilities, like dispensaries, testing laboratories, cultivation and production facilities, are handled by state officials.
The bill failed to pass, but Segerblom still got his way. While Nevada law does not explicitly grant permission for marijuana consumption lounges, Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said in a September 2017 letter to Segerblom that the lounges would in fact be permitted on the local level as long as marijuana was not being used unlawfully.
Since then, the City of Las Vegas has held two public workshops, asking for input from the marijuana industry on how the consumption lounges should be implemented. The result was an 11-page draft ordinance in late 2017, allowing for marijuana consumption, food sales and even