Nevada Resort Association Opposes Vegas Strip Cannabis Lounges

Las Vegas Strip Pot Lounges

Las Vegas casinos do not want pot lounges on the Vegas Strip, but they advocate marijuana dispensaries like the Planet 13 Superstore.

The Nevada Resort Association (NRA), Nevada’s leading gaming and resort advocacy group, is urging Las Vegas officials to postpone a decision on a local ordinance that would allow marijuana ‘consumption lounges’. The Resort Association believes that the addition of the hookah-style lounges would cause “unique challenges” for casinos in the area.

In a letter sent to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and City Manager Scott Adams, the association asked that any decisions regarding the matter to legalize the pot smoking lounges be withheld “until further information is available from other jurisdictions.”

The lounges, where legal quantities of pot could be consumed, would be available for adults 21 and over. NRA President Virginia Valentine said, “Recreational marijuana has only been legal in Nevada since July 1, 2017.”

“Consequently, communities have little or no experience with the impacts of lounges on the communities or surrounding businesses.”

Why Casinos Shun Vegas Strip Pot Lounges

During the November 2016 election, Nevada voters approved the purchase, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana. Despite being legal under state law, local zoning ordinances prevent any marijuana dispensaries from being located directly on the Las Vegas Strip.

Vegas casinos want to keep marijuana dispensaries at an arm’s length because marijuana is illegal under federal law. Casino operators have a history of trouble with federal investigators dating back to the decades when Las Vegas casinos were operated by the American mafia, so it is a longstanding policy to avoid any activity which might draw federal probes.

Nevada officials understand that concern, so they have tried to pen state laws to comply with federal law. In particular, the Nevada Gaming Control Act calls for casinos in the state to maintain 100% compliance with federal laws. That makes pot lounges on the Las Vegas Strip problematic, if not impossible.

Nevada Gaming Control Act

The rules placed by the Nevada Gaming Control Act states that casinos must comply with all federal, state, and local laws. Federal statutes still classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same category as heroin, LSD, and cocaine. Because of that, the state’s casino resorts try their best to steer clear from any association with the drug.

Though they do not want marijuana dispensaries on the Vegas Strip, casino operators are not closed to the idea of having them at all. Andy Abboud of the Clark County Marijuana Advisory Panel and SVP of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, spoke in favor of cannabis lounges recently. Abboud said he believed that lounges would likely deter marijuana use in resort guestrooms.

Since Nevada’s recreational marijuana law states that the use of marijuana be done only on private property, this would exclude any use in casinos or any of their facilities such as hotel rooms. With that consideration, Andy Abboud said off-Strip marijuana lounges might be beneficial for the gaming industry.

Councilman Bob Coffin, who is in favor of the ordinance, sought to push it through. He says the letter from the NRA will not stop his goal of allowing consumption inside designated lounges. Coffin says that the city council likely will revisit the issue in late October or November.

Planet 13 Marijuana Dispensary

Aside from the mixed views regarding the cannabis lounges, the state’s legalization of the drug has made way for more development projects. Amongst the largest plans happening is Planet 13. The $7.5 million Planet 13 complex, which plans to open in November, will be one of the world’s largest cannabis dispensaries. The pot megastore was developed by former Mayor of Henderson, Bob Groesbeck, and current City Councilman Larry Scheffler.

Planet 13 is located at the intersection of Desert Inn and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive. The complex is currently 40,000-square-feet and will be stocked with a brewery, coffee shop, and restaurant, as well as 45 checkout registers for the consumables there.

The already massive complex plans an expansion and eventually will include 112,000-square feet along with sensor-activated floors, aerial floating orbs, and “laser graffiti” to give Planet 13 customers a different kind of experience. The developers hope that soon Planet 13 Superstore will also offer a designated area for their customers to consume their freshly purchased cannabis.

Sisolak vs. Laxalt on Pot Dispensaries

Both candidates in the state’s race for governor seem to be on board with the addition of legalized marijuana in the state. Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who currently holds close to a seven-point lead in the race over Attorney General Adam Laxalt, has supported legalized lounges from the start of his campaign.

Adam Laxalt, the current Attorney General of Nevada, initially opposed legalized marijuana and pot dispensaries, but since has reverse his position on the idea of legalization.