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Nevada Regulators Give Final Approval for Cannabis Lounges

Regulators in Nevada on Tuesday gave the final sign-off to cannabis consumption lounges, paving the way for the establishments to perhaps open up by year’s end.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board voted on a slate of regulations for the lounges, a crucial regulatory hurdle in a process that has been nearly a year in the making.

According to local news station KLAS, some of the regulations approved by the board on Tuesday “included safety protocols at lounges, training requirements for staff, and location requirements for the lounges,” such as “certain distances from locations such as schools and community facilities.”

Nevada’s lawmakers granted funding to the Cannabis Compliance Board for staffing and other support during regulation of lounges. This was in August.

The Nevada Independent reported at the time that a legislative committee “unanimously approved three items that will provide the [Cannabis Compliance Board] with funds to hire more staff, work with the state attorney general’s office to hammer out regulations, and direct cannabis revenue toward education funding.”

Tyler Klimas, the executive director of the Cannabis Compliance Board, told the legislative committee at the time that the additional funding helped put the state on track to have the lounges open “at least the first quarter, or the first half of 2022.”

“Not only to see the lounges open, but then also the first part is where we would start to realize that revenue,” he said at the time.

Tuesday’s vote apparently keeps that timetable in place, with the Las Vegas Sun reporting that the board said the “first state-sanctioned cannabis consumption lounges could potentially open before the end of the year.”

The Cannabis Compliance Board has been waiting for this moment for a while. On Tuesday, the board announced in a press release that 15 meetings were held to discuss potential regulations regarding the use of lounges.

Additionally, the board provided information for potential lounge owners.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in the press release. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

Local news outlet KLAS reported that the Cannabis Compliance Board expects “40 to 45 applications for lounges attached to retail shops and 20 independent shops, 10 of which will go to social equity applicants.”

“What we are looking for is the impacts of drug policy on individuals and members of the community. We are looking at poverty level, we are looking at any past convictions of cannabis,” Klimas said, as quoted by KLAS.

Nevada has legalized adult recreational marijuana use in 2017. However, cannabis consumption is restricted to individuals’ private residences. That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from toking up in public. You can see the full list here. The Street said, “while it is not technically legal to light up a joint while walking the Strip…the aroma in the air suggests that it’s happening quite regularly.”