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Cannabis regulators award the first three conditional consumption lounge licenses 

Naoka Foreman
Naoka Foreman
Planet 13 Cannabis Dispensary located near the Las Vegas Strip is seen Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent).

Nevada regulators gave conditional approval on Tuesday for three existing dispensaries to open cannabis consumption lounges, bringing them one step closer to offering legal, public places to consume marijuana.

The Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) approved Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, a multilocation, large-scale cannabis operator, for a conditional consumption lounge license for its Sammy Davis Jr. Drive location near Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club in Clark County. The nearby Planet 13 Dispensary was also approved for licensing at the public meeting, as was Washoe County’s The Venue at Sol Cannabis. 

The businesses are the first three to receive the preliminary approvals.

According to Brett Scolari, a lobbyist for 360 Strategies who represents Thrive, Solaris and several other cannabis companies, this is the first step of many before his client opens the doors to their establishment. This comes two years after lawmakers legalized consumption lounges through AB341.

“They gotta get Clark County approvals, get it constructed, retrofitted for the ventilation system, all that good stuff,” he said. “And then go back to the CCB for final inspection and final approval.”

Voters legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, but laws did not create space for legal consumption outside of a private residence until 2021. That’s when lawmakers authorized jurisdictions to approve cannabis consumption lounges, or establishments such as coffee shops, restaurants or entertainment venues that specialize in serving single-use cannabis products or infused foods. 

Last fall, the board granted 40 prospective licenses for lounges.

Supporters hope that new establishments will offer adequate outlets for social consumption, but many licensees fear that the current, stringent regulations will leave them sinking in a money pit.

This led board members to approve an amendment that drops the number of air changes required per hour, or how often all the air in a lounge space is sent through a filter, depending on the ventilation system. 

“There are probably going to be other folks that come forward as they're putting their proposals together … and they're gonna go, 'Oh, wow, I can't afford to do this,'” said lobbyist Scot Rutledge, who represents Green Life Productions cultivation. “So the way it is written today, again, at 30 air exchanges an hour, that is going to continue to be a problem.” 

The proposed amendment would lower the amount of air changes from 30 per hour down to 20 for smoking rooms, modeling cigar lounges, and 20 to six for other spaces inside lounges, mirroring taverns. 

“We believe that [the changes] lower the barrier to entry for consumption lounge operators in drastically reducing the upfront investment and ongoing operational and energy costs of running these ventilation systems without meaningfully deteriorating air quality,” said Chris Anderson of Sala Consulting who was representing Planet 13, during Tuesday’s meeting.

The board is also considering the authorization of personal filtration devices, which inventor Shanel Lindsay said during her testimony at the meeting will prevent smoke from entering the air, resulting in better air quality and an affordable alternative to outfitting an HVAC system. 

The board stated that the public has 30 days to come forward before regulators adopt additional changes at the next meeting as it relates to consumption lounge ventilation.


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