Nevada law doesn’t prohibit local governments from permitting businesses to let customers consume marijuana on their premises, according to state officials, meaning cannabis-friendly cafes, clubs and other establishments may soon be opening shop.
The state Legislative Counsel Bureau indicated in an legal opinion published Monday that local governments within Nevada can decide on their own whether they want to permit marijuana consumption inside licensed businesses, potentially expanding significantly the scope of the state’s infant recreational weed industry.
Responding to state Sen. Tick Segerblom, Las Vegas Democrat, Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said that marijuana consumption may be permitted inside businesses as law as it isn’t done “unlawfully.”
“It is the opinion of this office that a business may establish and operate a lounge or other facility or special event at which patrons of the business are allowed to use marijuana,” Ms. Erdoes wrote.
Marijuana legalization advocates including Mr. Segerblom said the opinion means that customers may soon be able to legally smoke weed inside certain businesses.
“This basically says local governments can license these businesses if they want to,” Mr. Segerblom told The Las Vegas Sun.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s fantastic.”
Nevadans voted in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana, and in July the state became the fifth in the country to begin retail pot sales. State law is vague with respect to where marijuana can be consumed besides private residences, however, and Mr. Segerblom asked the bureau to explain whether businesses could legally establish and operate lounges or other facilities where patrons could legally partake.
“It’s really difficult to encourage all these tourists to come here and then say, oh, by the way, there’s nowhere you can go,” Mr. Segerblom said. “I personally feel it’s a great industry for Las Vegas. I’d like to see an Amsterdam street, a cannabis hotel, a bed and breakfast, you name it. The sky’s the limit.”
Around 60 dispensaries have started selling recreational marijuana since retail sales began July 1, though most are located in or around Las Vegas, the state’s largest city and the seat of Clark County.
Clark County commissioners will discuss the possibility of permitting business to allow marijuana consumption at a meeting next week, commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said.
“I do feel it is very important for the people who are coming from out of town, the tourists, which are a big contributor to the industry’s business, I’m told, to have a place where they can legally and safely consume the product,” he told the Review-Journal.
Colorado is the first state to legalize recreational marijuana and began retail sales Jan. 1, 2014. Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada have since followed suit, and retail sales are slated to begin next year in California, Massachusetts and Maine.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but the Trump administration has declined so far to intervene in states that have passed their own rules for the plant.
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