For just over two decades, we’ve watched the slow but steady progression of legal medical and (trialing slightly behind) recreational cannabis. In the past year, we’ve seen a sweeping tsunami of medical and recreational legalization that has shocked even cannabis’ biggest proponents. Is it really becoming this acceptable this quickly? As it turns out, in most legalized states, it’s perfectly legal and acceptable to buy marijuana products, but it’s then illegal to consume them in public or in hotels, apartments, condos, and other rented residences (unless you’ve got a super chill landlord).
So what is a patient, partaker, or tourist to do when they can buy a potent pre-roll but can’t stroll through the park or post up on their hotel or apartment balcony to toke? Well, some states have long been clamoring to legalize cannabis consumption lounge licenses, which would open the door for safe, legal spaces where consumers could enjoy their cannabis in peace. Because even though public consumption is outlawed in most states, it’s still a highly reported concern among citizens, particularly those who don’t partake themselves.
Cannabis consumption lounge licenses have been approved in California, Colorado, and Michigan in the past, and Alaska recently approved them in 2019. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought these operations to a screeching halt as public gatherings, particularly indoor ones, were indefinitely swept off the table. Restaurant, bar, and nightclub owners faced the same problem, leaving those business owners scrambling. But as the world seems to be opening up again, the possibility of cannabis consumption lounges becoming more common is looming around the corner. Plus, those in warm locales (and the right licensing) can host their lounges outdoors, which has already become popular among restaurant patrons this past year.
In fact, just earlier this month Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada signed legislation to make cannabis consumption lounges legal in the state. This is big news for the Las Vegas cannabis and tourism markets, which already go hand in hand. The bill Gov. Sisolak signed includes provisions for two types of licenses. The first would be for retail locations so that they could both sell their products and provide a space for them to be consumed. The second would be independent lounges that can then work with various dispensaries to buy and resell their products in a lounge environment.
One of the highlights of the bill is its social equity stipulation. It reads that a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis” can qualify for reduced licensing fees. But of course, as with everything else in life and especially in the cannabis world it seems, nothing as cool and chill as a cannabis consumption lounge can exist without strict guidelines and laws in place. As state governments and their constituents work that out, at least we all have something to look forward to in the (hopefully not too distant) future.