The city of Amsterdam has been widely regarded in the cannabis community for its “coffee shops,” where patrons are allowed to legally purchase cannabis products and publicly consume marijuana. According to some reports, the city has more than 250 of these cannabis shops. Since cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, anyone over the age of 18 may enter a coffee shops and purchase up to five grams of marijuana a day. While customers may not enter the same facility more than twice a day, they may consume any purchased cannabis products while at the shop.
The idea of a public establishment where cannabis enthusiasts can gather and consume marijuana legally is one of the first of its kind. Nevada, who recently became the 8th state in the United States to legalize recreational cannabis use, may begin to follow Amsterdam’s lead. Nevada cannabis lounges may soon become a reality.
What Has To Happen Before Nevada Cannabis Lounges Open?
Recently, Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau stated that due to a lack of written state law, cities and counties could determine their own regulations regarding public cannabis consumption. Due to this vague legislation, there is no clear legal hurdle that would prevent Nevada cannabis lounges from being built. Establishing businesses like this would be an important and logical next step forward for Nevada’s legal cannabis program.
Currently cannabis use is only legal in private residences. So visitors and tourists to popular destinations like Las Vegas or Reno have no place to publicly consume marijuana or other cannabis products. As state Senator Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas stated, “we’re inviting 40 million people to come here and buy marijuana, but then we turn around and say there’s no place to use it.”
Cannabis lounges can potentially have tremendous financial benefit for Nevada’s tourism industry. It will be interesting to see if this business model would influence other states where recreational cannabis is legal. Similar to the attention garnered by Colorado in 2012 when it became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, other states will be carefully watching this development in Nevada. The main legal concern seems to be how Nevada cannabis lounges would be regulated.
Nevada Following Canada’s Lead
In Toronto, cannabis lounges that have been operating for years are seeking out licensing and regulation from the local government. Some of these lounges have been open for more than 20 years, operating legally while Canada allowed medical marijuana use. Now that Canada has legalized recreational cannabis, some lounges want to be licensed by the government, many using the same tourism-driven argument that proponents of cannabis lounges in Nevada are making. These business owners feel that regulating cannabis businesses will promote mainstream acceptance from tourists.
Strict Government Regulation
Nevada is currently leading the race for legal and regulated cannabis lounges, though Colorado and Alaska are also considering this concept. The idea of cannabis lounges is one with both business and safety in mind. With the tourist hub that is Las Vegas within its jurisdiction, the state of Nevada would be wise to implement policies that will provide tourists with safe and legal space to consume cannabis and at the same time boost tax revenue for the state and local governments.
Nevada’s regulations on cannabis lounges will likely be similar to those that Toronto is pursuing. While it is likely that dedicated cannabis lounges will be opening in Nevada, it is also possible that other businesses like hotels, yoga studios and gyms will permit cannabis use in their establishments. What types of businesses will be legally permitted to allow cannabis use will be up to legislators.