Nevada Resort Association Says Marijuana Lounges Would Create Regulatory Headache for Casinos

Posted on: September 20, 2018, 04:30h. 

Last updated on: September 20, 2018, 04:34h.

The Nevada Resort Association (NRA) is urging Las Vegas officials to delay considering a local ordinance that would authorize marijuana consumption lounges.

Las Vegas marijuana Nevada Resort Association
The Nevada Resort Association is trying to halt an effort to allow recreational marijuana users to consume the drug in lounges and potentially dispensaries like the forthcoming Planet 13 near the Strip. (Image: Ted Warren/AP/KM Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/ /

The voice of the gaming and resort industries in the Silver State, the NRA says such marijuana facilities would create “unique challenges” for nearby casinos. In a letter sent to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I), City Council, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and City Manager Scott Adams, the association requests that an ordinance to legalize the pot smoking lounges be delayed until more information is available.

Recreational marijuana has only been legal in Nevada since July 1, 2017,” NRA President Virginia Valentine said. “Consequently, communities have little or no experience with the impacts of lounges on the communities or surrounding businesses.”

Nevada voters approved the purchase, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana during the November 2016 election. Local zoning ordinances prevent marijuana dispensaries from being located on the actual Strip.

Hazy Regulations

The Nevada Gaming Control Act requires casinos to comply with all federal, state, and local laws. With the feds still classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same grouping as heroin, LSD, and cocaine, and the state’s casino resorts are staying far away from the drug.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily opposed to marijuana smoking lounges. The Las Vegas Sun reports that Andy Abboud, the right-hand man of Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson, said during a recent policy discussion with Clark County officials that lounges would likely deter cannabis use in resort guestrooms.

Nevada’s recreational marijuana law mandates that the drug be consumed on private property, meaning it isn’t to be used inside a hotel room. Abboud suggested allowing off-Strip marijuana lounges might be in the gaming industry’s best interest.

Councilman Bob Coffin is pushing the marijuana lounge ordinance, and says the NRA letter won’t slow his ambitions to allow consumption inside designated lounges. He says the issue will likely be readdressed in late October or November.

Pot of Gold

Despite an uncertain future regulatory environment, several marijuana development projects are well underway in Las Vegas.

The most notable is Planet 13, a $7.5 million complex that will become one of the world’s largest cannabis dispensaries when it opens in November. The marijuana superstore comes from former Henderson Mayor Bob Groesbeck and City Councilman Larry Scheffler.

The sprawling complex will initially open with 40,000-square-feet. Along with 45 checkout registers, the facility located at the intersection of Desert Inn and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive will offer a brewery, coffee shop, and food.

Additional planned phases will expand the building to 112,000-square feet. Sensory-activated floors, aerial floating orbs, and “laser graffiti” are just some of the features that customers will be able to experience. Ideally, Planet 13 will one day be permitted to allow customers to consume their marijuana purchases in a designated area.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak (D), who holds a nearly seven-point lead in the Nevada governor’s race over Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), supports legalizing marijuana lounges. Laxalt opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, but has since defended the state’s laws on the drug.