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Drawings will winnow cannabis lounge applications

Nevada on Wednesday will randomly pick the 20 applicants that will receive provisional state licenses to open stand-alone cannabis consumption lounges, according to the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board.

During a 10-day period in October, the state received 79 viable applications for the limited number of independent licenses it will issue, according to the board. Ten of the licenses will go to applicants negatively impacted by marijuana laws before Nevada legalized the drug in 2016.

Two drawings will winnow the applications to 39 independent applicants, and 20 “social equity” applicants, according to figures provided by the board.

The license holders will be determined by a “random number selector,” which essentially is a computerized lottery, run by Smartplay International Inc., a New Jersey-based company, the board said. The Henry and Horne firm will oversee the selection.

The chosen applicants will have 120 days “to provide the documentation and information required” for a suitability investigation, the board said.

The lounges, which will be akin to taverns, but with no alcohol served, are expected to begin opening across the state in the first half of 2023. The establishments will allow consumers to legally smoke in public for the first time since the Nevada Legislature legalized recreational use of the plant.

The lounges and state regulations were approved during the 2021 legislative session. Municipalities can strengthen, but not weaken state rules.

Once licensed by the state, the prospective applicants will then need to go through a local licensing process.

Clark County and the city of Las Vegas, which voted to allow the establishments, continued working on their regulations. Henderson and North Las Vegas were among the Southern Nevada jurisdictions that opted out of allowing the lounges.

The 2 p.m. Wednesday drawings are closed to the public, but will be viewable in a YouTube live-stream, the board said.

Nevada did not place a limit on how many lounges associated with existing dispensaries will be allowed. Twenty retail businesses applied.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.

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