Visitors to Las Vegas will soon have places to legally smoke weed as Nevada regulators have issued the state’s first three conditional licenses for cannabis consumption lounges. The Nevada Cannabis Control Board (CCB) issued two licenses for businesses in the Las Vegas Valley, while the remaining permit was issued for a lounge to be located in Washoe County in the northwestern corner of Nevada.

Before they can invite guests in to light up, the three Nevada businesses must first receive local approval and undergo a final inspection by board agents with the CCB. But with their conditional licenses in hand after approval by the board at a meeting on June 20, the lounges can finish planning and constructing their sites and prepare for opening.

“Receiving this confirmation from the state allows us to move on to the final design and buildout of our consumption lounge,” said Larry Scheffler, co-CEO of Planet 13, a dispensary complex near the Las Vegas Strip that received one of two licenses issued in Clark County. “The consumption lounge will be a huge step to unlocking the full potential of the SuperStore as a cannabis destination. It will give customers the ability to try products prior to buying, watch live entertainment, and enjoy food and drink in a social setting that matches Planet 13’s incredible experiential design standard.”

Planet 13 vice president of sales and marketing David Farris said that the company is still in the planning and construction phase for its lounge. The company had originally considered a restaurant concept for its lounge, but at the CCB meeting, Planet 13 general counsel Leighton Koehler told the board that the company is considering a range of ideas from a “modest” tasting room to a more expansive nightclub experience. 

“It’s a strict business, pencil out the math (decision)—we’re still looking at that and trying to decide how much it costs to implement,” Koehler said during the meeting.

Representatives of the vertically integrated cannabis firm said that they plan to submit their plans to Clark County in the coming weeks for a review by county officials that could take several months. Neither Planet 13 nor Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, the second business to receive a cannabis consumption lounge in Clark County, have set an expected opening date. Thrive hopes to open its lounge on Sammy Davis Jr. Boulevard in time for the MJ Biz Con cannabis industry trade show in late November.

Chris LaPorte, managing partner of Reset, a cannabis consultant firm representing Thrive, said the company’s approximately 3,000 square-foot lounge venue Smoke and Mirrors would be a place for “cannacurious” tourists to be introduced to different marijuana products without visiting a dispensary.

“It’s just a vibe,” LaPorte said. “It’s like any other Las Vegas nightlife hospitality, but instead of a liquor bar, it’s cannabis as social lubricant.”

Edward Alexander, the owner of SoL Cannabis in Washoe County, said that he envisioned his business as a gathering site for the community, but many patrons had questioned why they were not allowed to consume the products they had just purchased at the dispensary.

“Every weekend during the summer, we do music at our facility,” Alexander said during Tuesday’s CCB meeting, as quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “And every weekend, the old grouchy, tattooed hippie is out there saying, ‘I know you’re at Disneyland, (but) you can’t ride the rides.’”

At its June 20 meeting, the CCB also amended the air quality regulations for cannabis consumption lounges by reducing the required number of air exchanges per hour in smoking areas from 30 to 20 exchanges per hour and from 20 to six exchanges per hour in non-smoking areas. The change will “allow for greater flexibility in air ventilation requirements for cannabis consumption lounges further reducing barriers of entry for all potential licensees including social equity applicants,” according to the board. Officials made the change after applicants for the lounge licenses said that building an air conditioning system to meet the stricter requirements is too expensive.

“If you’re moving air every minute or two minutes, it’s a massive power consumption challenge,” said LaPorte.

Late last year, the CCB conducted a digital drawing to select 40 businesses for prospective cannabis consumption lounge licenses “via a random number selector to determine the issuance of independent cannabis consumption lounge licenses for non-social equity applicants and social equity applicants,” according to a statement from the agency. Prospective license holders must submit all required documents for a suitability investigation by CCB board agents in order to receive a conditional license.

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