Las Vegas marijuana consumption lounges prepare for new era

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

Interior image of Smoke and Mirrors consumption lounge

The interior of the Smoke and Mirrors Cannabis Lounge, which is attached to the Thrive Cannabis Marketplace off the Las Vegs Strip. (Photo by Lee Pettet)

Exhale. The long-awaited arrival of marijuana consumption lounges in Las Vegas is finally here.

Thrive Cannabis Marketplace recently opened the first state-licensed lounge adjacent to its store just off the Las Vegas Strip, and nearly 20 other consumption businesses are putting the finishing touches on their venues, according to state regulators.

After passing the final site inspection by the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) on Feb. 15, Smoke and Mirrors Cannabis Lounge opened a week later, highlighting the urgency and behind-the-scenes preparations that went into launching a new era of marijuana hospitality in the tourism mecca.

In some respects, the development has been years in the making.

“More like seven years for us,” said Chris LaPorte, managing partner at Reset, a Las Vegas-based cannabis hospitality firm that consulted with Thrive on the project.

“We first introduced the concept to the city of Las Vegas in 2017.”

Like most retail developments in the industry, regulatory approvals, building delays and other red tape added years to the original timeline; the COVID-19 pandemic halted progress a few more years.

Today, most of these setbacks appear to be in the rearview mirror, as more than a dozen hopeful operators near final CCB approval to bring their consumption-lounge concepts to market.

Las Vegas has been focal point

The industry has hyped the arrival of consumption spaces around Las Vegas for years.

Tyler Klimas, a former CCB executive director, originally targeted a launch date in early 2022, and operators once again started anticipating the lounge openings last summer.

Despite the rosy projections, the only legal consumption lounge operating in Nevada before the past month has been the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace located on tribal land about two blocks from downtown Las Vegas.

The space, which has an outdoor dab bar and cannabis-infused beverages, opened in 2019 and is regulated by the Las Vegas Pauite Tribe, not state government.

Strict regulations governing smoke ventilation delayed the launch of dozens of lounges for months in 2023.

The added expenditure for installing and maintaining air-ventilation systems can be astronomical – well into the six-figures – according to industry sources.

The CCB approved looser air-ventilation standards for consumption lounges in June 2023.

“The biggest challenge was trying to ensure that we created a space that is safe for our guests and our employees,” LaPorte said.

“We have a safe environment through very expensive HVAC systems, no question about it.”

Industry concerns over air quality seem to have faded.

“We have not received any additional feedback from facilities regarding challenges meeting guidelines regarding HVAC or any other regulation,” the CCB said in a statement emailed to MJBizDaily.

The operators of Smoke and Mirrors committed a portion of the business to avoid or mitigate smoke altogether.

So hookahs and other devices that emit massive plumes of smoke are not available.

Instead, digital readers attached to Stündenglass gravity bongs provide more measured hits and less smoke.

Smoke and Mirrors also offers visitors a variety of rolling papers and Chill Steel Pipes, which are vacuum-insulated similar to premium reusable water bottles.

Smoke and Mirrors visitors split between locals, tourists

The midcentury modern design at Smoke and Mirrors’ 1,200-square-foot lounge plays up its classic Vegas roots.

“Anything that you do in Vegas has to be stepped up a notch,” LaPorte said.

Since opening Feb. 23, the lounge has drawn 60 to 80 daily visitors, according to LaPorte, and guests have been split evenly between locals and tourists.

Nearly 41 million people visited Las Vegas last year, the highest number since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the menu, Smoke and Mirrors sells:

  • Dabs and 1-gram pre-rolls for $20.
  • Infused pre-rolls for $22-$45.
  • Eighths of flower for $50-$75.

Visitors are prohibited from bringing in their own cannabis products or smoking accessories, and guests cannot leave the venue with products purchased at the lounge.

“One of the big things that we’re excited about is people leave this room and they don’t smell like weed,” LaPorte said.

“We really wanted to focus on the cannabis-cocktail opportunity.”

So far, the strategy is paying off, as the venue is seeing nearly a split between smokers and drinkers.

Smoke and Mirrors’ elaborate mocktail menu – an ode to classic drinks such as margaritas, daiquiris and palomas – feature marijuana-infused versions.

A 2.5-milligram THC-infused offering costs $19 and a 5-milligram THC infusion $23; non-infused options are $15.

“We’re seeing people come in, enjoy a joint or a cocktail, and they’re out within an hour,” LaPorte said.

Nevada expects more consumption lounges soon

When Nevada regulators approved rules for consumption lounges in June 2022, they estimated 60-65 licenses would be issued.

Inching closer to April 20, the biggest sales day of the year for marijuana retailers, more than a dozen Nevada consumption lounges are nearing final approval.

“At this time, we have 18 businesses who have their conditional licenses and are currently preparing their lounges for final inspection,” the CCB told MJBizDaily.

Las Vegas-based Planet 13 Holdings is among them.

The multistate operator is planning to debut a 3,000-square-foot consumption, food and entertainment space dubbed Dazed.

The venue will feature bong-shaped chandeliers, VIP booths with flat-screen TVs and a secret entrance.

“Things are moving swiftly and we are on track to open Dazed, our on-site consumption lounge, before the 4/20 holiday,” Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler told MJBizDaily via email.

“We can’t wait for the public to come and enjoy our premium cannabis products and specialty crafted cannabis cocktails.”

Chris Casacchia can be reached at