Las Vegas City Council Bans Pot near Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Pot Lounges Casinos

Las Vegas wants pot lounges, but nowhere near the casino resorts.

The Las Vegas City Council voted 4-1 to allow marijuana consumption lounges within the city limits. The city council stiffened restrictions on marijuana usage near casinos, though. One might think casino resorts would welcome recreational pot consumers, but it’s quite the opposite. Casinos have good reasons for avoiding weed lounges.

Though marijuana is a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law, it is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes in Nevada. The major stipulation Nevada’s legislature put on marijuana usage is the requirement it be consumed indoors.

Nevada state law states, “You cannot use marijuana in any public place. You cannot use marijuana in a moving vehicle, even if you’re a passenger.”

For a couple of years, Las Vegas leaders debated whether marijuana lounges should be legal. This week, the Las Vegas City Council amended Municipal Code Titles 6 and 19 to allow “a business license category and land use regulations for social use venues (marijuana).”

4-1 Vote for Marijuana Lounges

Four members voted “Yes” on the marijuana lounge proposal. Only Stavros Anthony, a retired member of the Metropolitan Police Department, voted “No” on the measure.

Due to the vote, people now can smoke marijuana in licensed lounges in Summerlin and Downtown Las Vegas. They cannot smoke weed anywhere near the Las Vegas Strip, though.

Zoned against Vegas Strip Pot Usage

Cities that allow people to smoke marijuana pass zoning laws that keep weed out of certain areas. For instance, cities commonly pass laws that increase fines and jail time for those who smoke weed near K-12 schools.

Las Vegas leaders passed a law which imposes heightened fines and jail time around K-12 schools. They imposed the same kind of punishments for those caught smoking weed near the Las Vegas Strip.

A person might think casino resorts and weed go hand-in-hand. They don’t, or at least they don’t in Las Vegas.

Federal Law Bans Marijuana

Good reasons exist for having such laws. Because federal law makes marijuana a controlled substance, the US Justice Department sees weed usage anywhere as a potential crime. Former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a memo to federal prosecutors stating they could prosecute based on marijuana usage.

The US attorneys who received such memos are not required to charge people with pot crimes, but they can. Prior to Jeff Sessions’ memo, the decision was not in the hands of the 46 US Attorneys offices around the country.

Why Casinos Are Wary of Pot

Over the years, Nevada casinos built a close relationship with state officials and Clark County officials. Those same casinos remain leery of federal oversight. FinCEN audits the casinos closely, at least for every transaction of $10,000 or more.

Federal agents long kept a close eye on Las Vegas casinos. The practice goes back to the decades when organized crime had a hand in Las Vegas’ gaming industry. Those days are long since passed, but casino owners do not want to give the FBI, the DEA, or FinCEN reasons to investigate the house. It’s a simple precaution and a good precaution.

Therefore, casino companies want to keep any federally banned activity out of their resorts. Marijuana usage inevitably would bring federal attention, which casino owners see as trouble. Therefore, the Las Vegas City Council passed an ordinance against smoking weed on the Vegas Strip.