The new year has been rife with upheavals and game-changing recreational marijuana news in Nevada and other states with legal marijuana programs. From Jeff Sessions’ rescission of the Cole Memo and what that means for cannabis lounges in Las Vegas to how Congress is fighting to protect marijuana rights, 2018 is off to a tumultuous start.
Although recreational marijuana sales have been breaking records and making headlines in Las Vegas and Greater Nevada, tentative plans to allow for the licensing of cannabis lounges or public consumption spaces have been put on hold indefinitely.
The idea of consumption lounges in Las Vegas have been circulating since July 2017 when the cities 43 million tourists became able to purchase recreational cannabis. Because public consumption is notoriously illegal, legislators, attorneys, and advocates have all pointed to the need for safe, regulated, and legal spaces for adults to consume cannabis.
Now, weeks after United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back internal protocols that had protected recreational marijuana programs, officials representing Las Vegas and Clark County indicated that the December discussions about implementing marijuana lounges have been suspended.
Assistant city attorney Bryan Scott told reporters that Sessions’ decisions took many in the state by surprise. “The memo caught a lot of people off guard, that’s the tough part,” he said in regard to the pullback on public cannabis lounges. “There are a lot of prominent citizens involved in this industry, and it would be good to have some certainty.”
Because Sessions’ new guidance sparked more questions than answers for legislators, Scott told reporters that country officials would wait for an opinion to be issued by the county’s attorney on this latest move.
Although Denver, Colorado notoriously legalized consumption lounges last year, the city has yet to approve and open its first lounge.
As city and county officials put their plans for cannabis lounges on hold, Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen and other members of Congress sponsored a bipartisan bill that would effectively replace the protections offered to states through the now-defunct Cole Memo.
Noting that the cannabis industry has generated revenue jobs in the Silver State, Rosen spoke with reporters the same week that Session’s rescinded the Cole Memo.
According to Rosen, “Nevada’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016 has resulted in millions of dollars in new revenue for Nevada’s state budget and thousands of new jobs that have helped grow our local economy,” she said. “Voters here decided to legalize recreational marijuana, and that should be respected as the law of the land in Nevada.”
At the beginning of January, Nevada regulators gave Nevada marijuana dispensaries a bit of ‘releaf’ by giving retailers the ability to begin offering cannabis deliveries.
Under the previously enforced mandate, only licensed distributors were allowed to transport any marijuana in Nevada. The new rules allow dispensaries to deliver up to one ounce of cannabis or cannabis-infused products to private residences, as long as they comply with existing seed-to-sale tracking systems. While deliveries to hotels and casinos are still prohibited, this is a huge boon for medical marijuana patients and consumers who need convenient releaf delivered to them.
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