Las Vegas approves cannabis consumption lounge rules

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The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday approved regulations for cannabis consumption lounges in one of the industry’s most-watched markets for cannatourism and hospitality innovation.

The seven-member board, which includes Mayor Carolyn Goodman, approved several new provisions that are more industry-friendly than initial proposals.

Most notably, the board chose to keep a 1,000-foot buffer between consumption lounges – a requirement overwhelmingly opposed by operators and advocates – but included an option for businesses to receive a waiver from the city council to bypass the rule and allow them to cluster near one another.

That’s similar to breweries and car dealerships, which feed off each other to attract customers and boost retail.

“The proposed 1,000-foot buffer between lounges is overly restrictive and frankly unnecessary,” retail and lounge consultant Maha Haq told MJBizDaily before the council vote.

“If they are hoping to develop cannabis tourism, this buffer is not going to help.”

The city council also approved several other location restrictions, including a 300-foot buffer between consumption lounges and:

  • City parks.
  • Places of worship.
  • Family/group-care service providers.
  • Public recreation facilities

Consumption lounges are also prohibited from locating within 1,500 feet of “nonrestrictive gaming” establishments and cannot set up operations in the city’s casino, resort or medical districts.

Approved fees include:

  • A $10,000 origination fee for lounge operators and a semiannual license fee not exceeding 3% of gross revenue.
  • A $1,500 origination fee for social equity lounge operators, lowered from $2,500 in the initial proposal.

Under the new rules, smoking and edibles consumption outdoors is allowed.

The road to regulatory approval was a long one, as Las Vegas city personnel began crafting policy in 2019.

“We are affording our tourists and people who want to go and consume marijuana a responsible way to do so,” council member Olivia Diaz said before casting a yes vote.

Marijuana consumption lounges, which can’t sell alcohol, were approved in September in Las Vegas and Clark County.

Twenty prospective consumption lounge applications were submitted during the October 2022 application window.

Some of the license holders have indicated plans to open their locations this summer.

Chris Casacchia can be reached at