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Clark County social lounges dominate marijuana discussion

Updated May 2, 2017 - 7:21 pm

Despite passing a major hurdle at the state level, marijuana social lounges might stall in Clark County.

Clark County commissioners Mary Beth Scow and Susan Brager expressed doubt about social marijuana clubs, saying the county is moving too quickly in its implementation of recreational marijuana. Commissioners heard a series of recommendations Tuesday — including allowing marijuana lounges — from the county’s marijuana advisory panel, which is made up of casino and marijuana industry representatives.

And much like the panel’s own meetings, the debate over marijuana clubs dominated Tuesday’s commissioner meeting.

”I’m not for the consumption lounges today, or next week, or next month,” Brager said.

Rather than pushing into the uncharted territory of marijuana clubs, Clark County should watch what happens in Colorado, Scow said.

“I just have concerns that this is coming so soon,” Scow said. “We need to let Denver make all their mistakes before we start doing consumption lounges.”

Denver is the nation’s only municipality to authorize marijuana clubs after voters approved the concept in November. Local officials there say those clubs could be operating by the end of this year.

Scow said she worries the clubs could lead to more stoned drivers, and she is unsure how police would be able to handle that.

Allowing for marijuana lounges is supported by both Southern Nevada’s marijuana businesses as well as an unlikely partner: the gaming industry.

Because casinos must abide by both federal and local laws, they cannot allow marijuana use on property. Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said lounges located away from gaming properties would help keep marijuana off the resorts and give tourists a legal place to consume cannabis.

The county’s proposal is dependent on Senate Bill 236 passing the Nevada Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, passed the Senate by a 12-9 vote last week.

Andrew Jolley, President of the Nevada Dispensary Association and owner of the Source dispensaries, said he doesn’t think lounges will be decided upon by the time recreational marijuana sales begin on July 1.

“I think that would be too aggressive. However, I do think they should be rolled out in a timely manner,” Jolley said. “The longer we wait to roll out consumption lounges, the more confusion there will be among tourists.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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