Nevada's proposed cannabis lounge law aims to undo some of the damage from the War on Drugs | Sierra Nevada Ally – The Sierra Nevada Ally

A woman vaporizing cannabis flower – photo: the Drug Policy Alliance.

On April 19, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary recommended passage of Assembly Bill 341, which would allow and regulate cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada. The bill has been exempted from legislative deadlines and contains something you don’t see everyday in a piece of legislation—guidelines for inclusion and social equity. The most notable: A first-time license for a cannabis lounge will cost up to $20,000, but a “social equity applicant,” can receive a discount of up to 75 percent.

So, how did it come to be that a new law will aim to help diversify the industry it regulates? 

“I think that really has to do with the fact that, until recently, this was a criminal activity,” Assemblyman Steve Yeager, the bill’s primary sponsor, told the Ally.

“Years ago, I was a public defender in Las Vegas,” Yeager said. “The amount of clients I would see getting arrested and cited for possession of small amounts of marijuana—it was disturbing to see that. … The studies showed the consumption use was pretty much the same regardless of where you live or your demographic, but [the laws] were just enforced very unfairly.”

Before widespread legality, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data, Black people were arrested at three times the rate of white people for cannabis use, nationwide. The disparity in arrest rates has continued in states where adult use is still prohibited.

Thinking through how to regulate a new branch of the industry

The process of designing AB 341 began two years ago.

“A few of us traveled out to San Francisco to look at their consumption lounge model because we were thinking about trying to do something potentially in the 2019 session about it,” Yeager

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