Vegas Marijuana Lounges Face Moratorium

The Nevada legislature has just enacted a two-year moratorium on licensing marijuana establishments in Las Vegas. The Assembly passed Assembly Bill 533 on 30 May 2019 with a vote of 39-1. The Senate voted in favor of the bill on 3 June, by a count of 14 to 6. Now, the bill must be enrolled and approved by Governor Steve Sisolak. If Sisolak as anticipated signs AB533, the proposed measures will be implemented.

Diverse Cannabis Categorizations

Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic by the United States government, alongside ecstasy, LSD, and heroin. Although the substance is lawful for recreational use in Nevada and ten other states, the Nevada Gaming Control Act requires casino license holders to comply with all federal laws.


Therefore, if the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic and prohibits its use, so must Las Vegas casinos. The substance can be purchased and smoked within the state, but not within these establishments. When approving legal consumption lounges, the City Council amended Titles 16 and 9 of the Municipal Code to create business license provisions and land use regulations for social venues.


The ordinance would not permit cannabis use within casinos, nor would it apply to the famous Strip, which is located in unincorporated Clark County. However, despite these precautionary conditions, the Assembly and Senate still appear hesitant about smoking facilities.


The End of the Moratorium Is Not Yet

If Sisolak signs the bill, he will appoint a five-member Cannabis Compliance Board charged with evaluating the regulations governing the legalization of marijuana lounges. The lounges were approved by the Las Vegas City Council in May and were set to open shortly, but AB533 has halted their progress for the time being.


The governor supports the commercial lounges personally. During his campaign for governor last year, he stated that the issue of visitors being legally permitted to purchase marijuana but only allowed to consume it in private residences must be addressed.


However, Sisolak appears to recognize the value of thoroughly examining the issue and reaching a sound, well-supported conclusion. His spokeswoman Helen Kalla stated publicly that he believes it is preferable to resolve questions regarding the venues “properly” rather than “quickly.” The moratorium does not indicate that lounges will never be approved; rather, it indicates that the city will proceed with caution.