Pamela Althoff, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, issues statement on the need for social equity licensing

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If the title sounds familiar to you, well, that’s because it is.

Cannabis parlors, where patrons can smoke a joint, tear up a bong, spray a dab, or do just about anything you can think of with the plant, seemed like a certainty under a Las Vegas prescription. in 2017 – and again in 2019. We’ve been talking about it for over four years in America’s entertainment capital.

But this time around, after years of setbacks and political interference from the rival gaming industry, a bill in the Nevada State Legislature is set to settle the score once and for all. .

Assembly Bill 341 would pave the way for an unlimited number of salons to open statewide, in counties where local governments allow cannabis companies to operate. This includes Sin City, where more than 40 million tourists visited each year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It would really open the floodgates for something that marijuana users have long wanted,” said Assembly Member Steve Yeager, a Democrat from Las Vegas who sponsored the bill. “And there is a part of social equity in which we don’t limit this only to owners of licensed dispensaries.”

Yeager, in his third term in the state’s biennial legislature, has felt the frustration himself. Long considered the heir apparent to former State Senator Tick Segerblom, known as Nevada’s ‘godfather of marijuana’, Yeager has seen the fledgling industry deliver all of its loot to a small group of business owners. anointed, most of whom were lawyers, doctors, casino operators, lobbyists and former public officials.

Fewer than 100 groups control almost all of the industry, as the state has capped dispensary licensing since the inception of the adult program in 2017. Many companies are also vertically integrated, meaning dispensary owners also hold the lion’s share of production and cultivation permits. Women and racial minorities have been disproportionately excluded, with the latter group most affected by cannabis prohibition.

The new bill flies in the face of years of meticulously restricting state licensing and manual selection operators so much that many dispensary owners are questioning whether opening a salon is even worth the investment.

“You have to determine if you can make money with them,” said David Goldwater, owner of Inyo, a dispensary located just over a mile from the Las Vegas Strip. “There are going to be a ton of new competitions.

Goldwater, whose store was one of the first dispensaries to open in 2015, said it had no plans to open a salon anytime soon.

But those who plan to roll the dice on a new show say they plan to carve out a niche for themselves to survive. It’s not much different from other businesses in Sin City, which rely on gimmicks, glitz, and glamor to earn visitors’ money.

Lissa Lawatch, CEO of Oasis Cannabis, is planning a beach-themed lounge in hopes of drawing tourists from the Strip to a block away. Similar to the world-famous “beach clubs” found at many of the nearby resorts, the 4,000-square-foot cannabis lounge – set up for an adjacent room off the Oasis commercial floor – provides for ‘providing guests with “a paradise in the desert.” That means live music, beach balls and seashell decor, among other tropical amenities.

“We’re looking for a super cool place for people to connect with their own vacations,” Lawatch said.

Anyone who purchases cannabis from Oasis will be able to use the lounge, although Lawatch and the company have yet to set a time limit for their guests. Most potential salon owners plan to offer either a paid membership, which people can visit as often as they want, or a one-time entry with product purchases at the dispensary.

To make money, the Oasis salon will likely have a cover charge and rental fee for customers to use bongs and other accessories, Lawatch said. Oasis also plans to limit the time that customers can spend time together, so they don’t get intoxicated when they hit the road.

“There would have to be a limit, I mean, they even put limits on the sushi bars,” she said. “You have to find a way to make sure people don’t come home roasted. “

Oasis is one of the few cannabis companies in Vegas located near the Strip. It opened in 2015 and was grandfathered under a 2017 regulation prohibiting cannabis companies from opening within 1,000 feet of a casino. Most of the other dispensaries are miles from famous Las Vegas Boulevard and consider at least 85% of their clientele to be local.

Representatives of out-of-band dispensaries believe that salons will be their golden ticket to finally attracting more foreigners. Residents can legally smoke inside a private residence as long as they own it or have permission from their owners. But tourists still have nowhere to go.

Instead of trying to consume discreetly in their rental cars, hotel rooms or on the street, visitors will opt for the peace and comfort of a legal drinking spot, representatives said. The lounges will also benefit people living in apartment complexes or housing where owners do not allow cannabis.

“Basically, this is a bill to decriminalize the use of marijuana in the state,” said Chris Anderson, government relations representative for the Apothecary Shoppe dispensary in downtown Vegas. “The current bans can be seen as a form of discrimination against people with fewer resources. “

The lobby of the Apothicary Shoppe resembles that of a quaint hotel, with large wooden desks and formally dressed attendants to serve its guests. Sophisticated menu booklets, like those found in gourmet Italian restaurants, sit on desks under bright reading lamps.

Instead of checking people in at a resort, however, uniformed budtenders offer their recommendations for marijuana products. The dispensary plans to offer a similar experience to visitors for its planned on-site consumer lounge if AB 341 obtains approval from state officials.

In the increasingly unlikely event that Bill does not pass, the Silver State already has a small open lounge. The Paiute Tribe of Las Vegas, who follow their own rules that allow them to circumvent state law, operated a small “tasting room” inside their mega-dispensary on tribal lands for a few years. There, customers can try 0.3 gram blunt flowers, grab a bong, or inhale a single nut.

This is only a sample of what will happen, however, if state officials can be taken at their word.


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