Vegas council approves cannabis consumption lounge ordinance, keeps distance requirements
Las Vegas will be maintaining the most contested portion of its ordinance governing cannabis consumption lounges — a requirement that lounges are at least 1,000 feet apart, although city leaders will be allowed to waive it with a city council vote.
Las Vegas city officials made two changes before approving the consumption lounge ordinance during a meeting on Wednesday, with the city potentially issuing business licenses as soon as June.
Last month, industry professionals argued that the distance requirements could prevent the downtown Arts District from developing a cluster of cannabis businesses that would form a destination similar to Amsterdam — the European city made famous for its wide-open attitude toward cannabis.
Advocates also fear a mixture of distance requirements and potential waivers will lead to redlining, a discriminatory practice that denies certain people, usually Black or minority, financial services for real estate investments.
After meeting with roughly 40 cannabis proponents last month, the Las Vegas business license and community development departments added authorizations to the consumption lounge ordinance that allow for outdoor smoking areas and no longer require neighboring businesses to approve, but those portions of the ordinance will be reviewed after a year.
The updates to the ordinance also drop social equity applicant license fees to $1,500, down from $2,500. Social equity licenses are available to people disenfranchised by discriminatory drug policies of the past.
Independent and retail consumption lounge license fees remain at $10,000 per business unless that amount exceeds 3 percent of gross revenue. Renewal fees are due on a semi-annual basis.
While the distance requirement between consumption lounges may be adjusted, unwaivable distance requirements include a rule that lounges are 1,000 feet away from schools, 300 feet away from churches, parks, family or group care facilities and recreational centers, and 1,500 feet away from businesses with at least 16 slot machines, or fewer slot machines coupled with sports betting or any other games.
Clark County is the only other Southern Nevada local government that has authorized consumption lounge licensing so far.
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