CARSON CITY — After years of legislative failures, marijuana consumption lounges soon could take root in Nevada.
Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, is sponsoring a bill in the Nevada Legislature this session that would legalize cannabis social use venues, a move that would give tourists an avenue to legally consume marijuana.
“We just need to provide that kind of venue so people can do it responsibly and do it the right way, if they so choose,” Yeager said.
It’s an issue that’s been around since the state allowed recreational marijuana sales starting in 2017. Tourists can come to Nevada and legally buy cannabis, but the only place where it can be consumed under state law is inside a private residence. And hotel rooms don’t count.
“It’s just crazy that we would would encourage people from out of state to buy it knowing that as soon as they walk out the door they’ll probably be breaking the law,” said Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, considered Nevada’s godfather of cannabis for leading the charge for legalization.
Gaming industry concerns
Marijuana is still classified as an illicit drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Because of that, gaming officials have opposed past efforts to move lounges forward. They’ve worried that if lounges were located too close to casinos their companies could run afoul of federal law.
“They present a compatibility issue for the gaming industry,” said Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association.
But Valentine said the resort association couldn’t take a stance on Yeager’s bill because it’s still being drafted.
“Without reviewing the language of the bill, I have to reserve commenting on exactly what they’re doing because we don’t know,” she said.
Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, who along with every other Republican in the Senate voted against a 2017 effort