Nevada gives final approval for marijuana consumption lounges

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Nevada regulators have finally finalized rules that open up the state’s cannabis market to an estimated 60-65 marijuana consumption lounges, a move long desired by an industry eager to take better advantage of the state’s bustling tourism industry.

The first marijuana consumption lounges are expected to open before year-end, according to a Cannabis Compliance Board news release promoted on social media.

The regulatory board approved the regulations Tuesday, a year after lawmakers passed a bill permitting the lounges, and after 15 public meetings and workshops on the issue.

Roughly 40-45 licenses would be issued for lounges attached to existing marijuana stores and another 20 for independent lounges, according to the Nevada Independent.

Ten of those licenses would have discounted fees for social equity applicants, the Independent reported, or individuals with a nonviolent marijuana conviction and who live in a designated disadvantaged area.

One of the criticisms of the rules is a high barrier to entry: Applicants must prove they have $200,000 in liquid assets to qualify for license.

“It (the approval of the regulations) has to be viewed as the first step. It’s not going to be perfect,” Tyler Klimas, executive director of the Cannabis Control Board, told the Independent on Monday before the final vote.

The next step is to educate potential applicants about the process through live webinars, tutorials and other resources, according to the Cannabis Control Board news release.

Regulators are expected to open the application process this fall.

Klimas told the Independent he believes some cannabis consumption lounges could open before year-end, given that some stores already have built facilities in hopes of receiving consumption licenses.

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The 2022 MJBiz Factbook projects that Nevada recreational marijuana sales will reach $900 million-$1.1 billion this year.

Cannabis sales in Nevada hit $1 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, according to state data.