Updated June 21, 2023 - 7:03 pm
Nevada regulators approved the first three cannabis consumption lounges on Tuesday, including two in the Las Vegas Valley, paving the way for some of the state’s first public spaces that allow marijuana use.
Planet 13 and Thrive Cannabis Marketplace in Clark County and The Venue at SoL Cannabis in Washoe County all unanimously received conditional licenses for their consumption lounge plans. The licensees must receive approval through their local jurisdictions and undergo a final inspection before opening.
Licensees said this was an exciting step forward in a yearslong effort to legalize lounges and a way to meet customer demand. SoL Cannabis owner Edward Alexander said his company wanted to create The Venue as a community gathering spot, but customers question why they can’t use the products they just purchased.
“Every weekend during the summer, we do music at our facility,” Alexander said during the meeting. “And every weekend, the old grouchy, tattooed hippie is out there saying, ‘I know you’re at Disneyland, (but) you can’t ride the rides.’”
Neither lounge in Southern Nevada has yet to set opening dates. Planet 13 officials said the project will be submitted to Clark County for zoning review in the coming weeks, a process they expect could take several months.
Thrive’s cannabis lounge, in its location at 2975 S. Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, is intended to open before the MJ Biz Con, a marijuana industry convention held in late November, company officials said.
Planet 13 General Counsel Leighton Koehler told the Cannabis Compliance Board that the company is considering several pathways, from a “modest” tasting lounge to a nightclub concept.
“It’s a strict business, pencil out the math (decision) — we’re still looking at that and trying to decide how much it costs to implement,” Koehler said during the meeting.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Farris said the company is still in its build-out phase for the lounge. Originally, the superstore near the Strip planned to use a restaurant venue in its building, but other concepts are being explored too.
The Cannabis Compliance Board also adjusted its air quality regulations for consumption lounges during the Tuesday meeting. The board reduced the required number of air changes in designated smoking areas from 30 to 20 and from 20 to 6 in non-smoking areas.
The changes came after applicants who said it was cost-prohibitive to build an HVAC system with that many air exchanges per hour.
“If you’re moving air every minute or two minutes, it’s a massive power consumption challenge,” said Chris LaPorte, managing partner of Reset, a cannabis consultant firm working with Thrive.
He described the roughly 3,000 square-foot lounge venue — named Smoke and Mirrors — as a place for the “cannacurious” tourists to be introduced to different marijuana products without needing to shop at a dispensary.
“It’s just a vibe,” LaPorte said. “It’s like any other Las Vegas nightlife hospitality, but instead of a liquor bar, it’s cannabis as social lubricant.”
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.