While some experts in the cannabis space such as Freddie Wyatt, president of Munch & Co., are looking to California, Oregon, and Colorado; Nevada might lead the way in legalizing consumption lounges. The city of Las Vegas will hold hearings on April 17 before the May 1 deadline to act on a bill allowing such lounges.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announced his support of consumption lounges as long as alcohol is not served.
Sheriff Lombardo told the audience during a Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association luncheon that tourists need a legal place to consume. Sheriff Lombardo is concerned about impaired driving and accidents as a result of using cannabis, but rideshare and other precautions can be taken. City officials have agreed to ban alcohol from social use venues, and the police department now supports the passage of the bill.
Gaming and resort officials are expected to present stiff opposition to passing the bill.
Patrick Hughes, CEO of Fremont Street Experience, addressed the council on behalf of gaming licensees. “I’m primarily concerned with impacting visitation to this city and to downtown.” Many are concerned about possible violations of the Controlled Substances Act because cannabis remains illegal federally. The city council can choose to concede to state lawmakers, who are also hearing legislation on consumption lounges.
Councilman Bob Coffin (D-Ward 3) introduced the proposed bill twice. It was changed to specify that no permit would be granted to a social space with nonrestricted gaming or within any gaming enterprise district. It should also be noted that the bill does not impact the Las Vegas Strip, which is located in Paradise Township in Clark County, which is not within the boundaries of the city of Las Vegas.
Passage of this bill could greatly impact the hospitality industry in Las Vegas and influence other states that are monitoring how officials in Las Vegas and Nevada vote on lounges.
The liquor industry with its big presence in Nevada will also be significantly affected in the tourism-based economy. According to Fortune magazine, a growing number of consumers, especially millennials, prefer cannabis to alcohol and beer.
According to IWSR and BDS Analytics, the cannabis industry is ready to become one of the biggest threats to the multi-billion dollar beverage alcohol business.
“Our research shows that up to 40 percent of adults 21 and over consume cannabis in states where it’s legal,” said Jessica Lukas, vice-president at BDS Analytics. “Cannabis presents substantial opportunities across consumer industries, including new occasions that alcohol cannot and will not play. Consumers will continue to look to cannabis products over alcohol for occasions when they are feeling creative, need to get motivated, or seeking health, medical or wellness benefits.”
As for the changing landscape of legalizing consumption lounges, in an interview with Wyatt for Sproutways.com, he stated, “West Hollywood [California] is the lead, but they are getting pushed back from the counties. … We are trying to get movement in Nevada, and I am speaking with officials in Colorado, but we have a long way to go.”
In Oregon, state senators Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties) are sponsoring Senate Bill 639 allow social consumption businesses and event spaces. A similar bill has been introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives, H.B. 2233 by representatives Ken Helm (D-Washington County), Rob Nosse (D-Portland) and Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene and Junction City).