As Nevada moves forward with hopes of opening up cannabis consumption lounges as early as the end of this year, the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board voted last month to move forward with a number of rules and regulations surrounding said lounges. Now, the state and potential licensees are taking a deeper dive, ironing out the details and figuring out the best ways to safely navigate the new regulations.
“At the end of the day, we want a place where people can come, listen to a little jazz, watch football, watch basketball, watch our hockey team,” Nevada Wellness Owner Frank Hawkins told Fox 5 Vegas. “The consumption lounges are going to go a long way for making a difference in hopefully making people to better understand Nevada and participate in Nevada and to come here and be able to smoke.”
Some of the rules and regulations approved include no alcohol inside of the lounges, the ability to serve food, secondhand smoke from consumption rules must be limited and strong products must include warnings for inexperienced users. Lounge operators must also have plans in place to prevent customers from driving under the influence.
In June, Executive Director Tyler Klimas told Fox 5 Vegas the regulations focus on safety, highlighting that staff will receive training to recognize when customers are over-consuming. Klimas also said that ridesharing will be encouraged and there will be a no-tow policy, in case customers have to leave their vehicles at a lounge overnight to get home safely without driving.
The regulations state that, should an increase in impaired driving be linked back to a lounge, that lounge would be required to “update” its mitigation plan.
According to a Las Vegas Weekly report, Klimas said the Cannabis Compliance Board will coordinate with licensees to establish a foundation for best practices and safe operating of the new sub-industry.
“Here in Nevada with consumption lounges, this is a new program, a new license type. So we’re really creating this whole part of the industry from scratch. We’re really … looking to see what the licensees are going to put forth,” Klimas said.
Klimas also noted that licensees must report instances or substantial risks of impaired driving, and the compliance board’s enforcement division will make rounds on the second day of lounges being open to see if and how regulations need to improve.
“This is a highly regulated and privileged industry,” Klimas said. “There’s an onus on these operators to let us know,” Klimas says. “In addition to that kind of self-reporting, we also have our auditors and inspectors because we got a lot of new positions as a result of the passage of legislation.”
Klimas added that the board feels “comfortable” with its available resources and that coordinating with law enforcement will be “integral” for public safety.
For those interested in opening their own weed lounges, owners will work with a lottery system, which is expected to award an estimated 40 to 45 licenses to existing dispensaries hoping to expand into a cannabis consumption lounge. The state will also award an additional 20 independent licenses. To open an independent lounge, the application fee is $10,000 and there is a $100,000 fee to attach a lounge to an already-existing dispensary.
Klimas said that, following a few more listening sessions with applicants, the license application period is expected to open in the fall. Klimas added that a 30-day notice of an application period, and when that expires, the board will offer a 10-day application period. Applicants will appear in front of the board, where it will determine if an applicant is suitable for a lounge license before they receive it.
Rules and regulations will continue to be monitored by the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board, and fines for non-compliance could range from $5,000 to $1 million.