Budtender Awards at Mandalay Bay Brings Another Test For Casino Anti-Cannabis Stance

Posted on: October 3, 2019, 02:47h. 

Last updated on: October 3, 2019, 03:53h.

Recreational cannabis is legal in Nevada, but casinos on the Las Vegas Strip don’t embrace that policy. That potentially presents some issues when the Budtender Awards are held at MGM Resort International’s Mandalay Bay on Oct. 11 and 12.

Mandalay Bay is hosting a cannabis confab that could challenge its policy against on-premises weed use. (Image: Cvent.com)

Leading up to the awards show – at which hip hop group Cypress Hill, famous in part for its various odes to marijuana consumption, will receive a lifetime achievement award – Budtender delegates can sample goods from exhibitors. Those wares will include marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) offerings from over 100 vendors. Tickets to the event range in price from $189 to $599 for a VIP package.

The two-day event will offer panel discussions, a product and service expo, a closing night performance, awards program, and after-party,” according to Budtender. “The 2019 Budtender Awards ceremony will be held in Las Vegas at Light Nightclub at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino October 12th, culminating in a performance by legendary hip-hop artists Cypress Hill.”

Consumption of marijuana on the premises of Nevada gaming properties, particularly in the large numbers that could happen at a convention and awards show, is a dicey proposition for operators. Although recreational cannabis consumption is legal there, the Nevada Gaming Control Act mandates operators comply with federal law. As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, marijuana is still illegal.

Nevada Marijuana Policy

In 2017, the Silver State became the eighth in the US to approve marijuana for non-medicinal consumption, with the original law stating that weed must be enjoyed in the confines of private residences. Nevada law stipulates that marijuana users cannot consume in a public place or in a moving vehicle, even if the user is a passenger.

Earlier this year, by a 4-1 vote, the Las Vegas City Council approved weed consumption lounges, mandating that such venues be located at least 1,000 feet away from gaming properties and schools. The Strip is part of an unincorporated area of Clark County, not the city of Las Vegas.

Whether it’s the Strip or Downtown Las Vegas, the city is powered by tourism, and gambling dollars and the gaming and leisure industry is by far the largest employer in the area. Policymakers realize that and, in late May, put the a near-term kibosh on cannabis lounges.

A bill with support from Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), Assembly Bill 533, was ratified several months ago and puts a two-year halt on licensing cannabis parlors.

More Cannabis Conventions Coming

Convention business is big business for Sin City and data confirm as much. As of Aug. 31, business meetings and expos brought over 4.7 million visitors to the city, according to the Las Vegas Convention And Visitors Authority (LVCVA). On a year-over-year basis, convention visits rose in six of the first eight months of 2019.

Cannabis meetings are playing a role in the uptick in convention visits. After the Budtender Awards next week, the Marijuana Business Conference takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center in mid-December. In April 2020, Paris, operated by Caesars Entertainment, hosts the Cannabis Conference 2020.