Cannabis reform advocates in Nevada may soon be treated with good news after the state legislature sent a bill that would legalize cannabis consumption lounges to the governor’s desk. Sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager, the legislation would create two new cannabis licensing categories, one for retail cannabis consumption lounges and the other for independent cannabis consumption lounges. The bill advanced through a state assembly committee in early April and was passed by the Nevada Assembly in late May before heading to the Senate for final approval.
Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill in a 17–3 vote before sending it to Governor Steve Sisolak for his signature. Sisolak has been a major supporter of Nevada’s cannabis industry, and he is expected to sign the bill into law. If he does, Nevada will become the eighth state in the country to legalize cannabis consumption lounges. With tourism being an integral part of Nevada’s economy, stakeholders hope providing safe spaces such as these lounges for cannabis consumption will attract cannabis tourists once the coronavirus pandemic dies down and the country fully opens up.
Under the legislation, existing cannabis retailers will be able to apply for the retail cannabis consumption lounge license and sell cannabis products that can be consumed on-site by adults aged 21 and older. On the other hand, independent lounges would not be allowed to sell cannabis on their own. They would have to contract with existing cannabis retailers to deliver ready-to-consume cannabis products, which the independent lounges would then provide to eligible customers on-site.
The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board would be tasked with creating regulations for these consumption lounges and collecting fees from license applicants. According to the legislation, retailers that qualify as social equity applicants would be charged reduced fees, with the bill classifying a social-equity applicant as anyone who was adversely affected by anti-cannabis policies in the past. A further amendment to the bill, which was approved by both the House and the Senate, would allow local governments to adopt more restrictive regulations for cannabis consumption lounges within their jurisdictions if desired.
The Nevada Assembly also passed two separate measures: one stipulated that the amount of THC in a person’s blood could not be used to determine whether or not they were impaired while driving, and a second reducing penalties for minors who consume cannabis. Some advocates argued that the THC limit used to determine the level of impairment was arbitrary and lacked sufficient scientific evidence.
With such a progressive approach to cannabis legislation, it may not be long before Nevada catches the attention of companies such as Red White & Bloom Brands Ltd. (CSE: RWB) (OTCQX: RWBYF) which operate on the super-state operator or multistate operator models.
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