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Cannabis lounge hopefuls await licensing process as regulations are poised for a vote

Cannabis lounges are waiting to open in Nevada, and new regulations will come with them.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 7:31 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - To make the green, you may consider giving people a place to smoke the green, but to give them that place, you have to get a license. So when will applicants be greenlit for a cannabis consumption lounge license?

While state officials estimate “early fall,” Las Vegas entrepreneurs are hopeful their dreams of owning a pot lounge do not go up in smoke as they wait to learn whether they’ll be allowed to open one.

Meanwhile, as the community and compliance board deliberate over their rules of operation, cannabis entrepreneur Douglas Turner said he is hoping he can get his hands on a license sooner, rather than later.

Turner and his business partner have plans for a cannabis lounge in Las Vegas, emboldened by the knowledge they gained in the county-funded Pathway to Ownership Program.

“We received the certificate from the county, just acknowledging that we completed the course -- the cannabis business school course,” Turner said. “We’ve been taking what we learned in the class, and just applying it to our business plan.”

Now, Turner is working on gathering investors and waiting for licensure applications to open.

“It’s kind of a waiting game,” Turner said.

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board already has the licensing details ironed out: an estimated 45 licenses will go to existing dispensaries wishing to expand, with 20 independent licenses given to independents like Turner, via a lottery system, according to a spokesperson for the board.

Ten of the 20 independent licenses will be dedicated for social equity applicants. Turner is among those planning to apply for a social equity license.

“They have all of that laid out already; it’s just the actual laws for operating the lounges,” said Turner.

Regulations for operations have been drafted in spades recently. Over recent months, the board has been collecting community feedback and has had 15 public meetings so far, according to Tiana Bohner, Public Information Officer, Nevada CCB.

“It’s their opportunity to speak and state their grievances,” Turner said.

Regulations drafted so far include prohibiting alcohol in pot lounges and requiring worker training and classes for spotting over-intoxication. Here is a full list of regulations drafted.

The Nevada CCB will hold a public hearing for the purpose of considering the adoption, amendment or repeal of the regulations. The public hearing will be held at 9:00 a.m. on June 28, 2022, at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, in room 2450 at 555 East Washington Avenue in Las Vegas. You may also view the meeting by this live stream link.

When it comes to the licenses, Bohner said they will likely be awarded two-three months later.

“We remain on track to issue licenses early fall, allowing the first lounges to open before the end of the year,” Bohner said.

Bohner said the first pot lounges to open will likely be in pre-existing dispensaries.

“Barring unforeseen circumstances, it would most likely be a retail-attached lounge open by the end of the year,” Bohner said.

Turner is worried the longer the wait, the slimmer chances he will have for getting picked in the lottery, since it could mean more people applying.

“It’s giving everyone more time to prepare,” Turner said. “Definitely was hoping it would be sooner so we could, ya know, cut through all the noise and everything.”

Still, he’s using his time wisely.

“This is really just the time we take to polish up everything,” Turner said.

Turner is hoping he gets picked for a license as soon as the lottery names are pulled.

“A lot of people were excited and looking forward to it opening up really soon, and so, it’s like, not just yet! You’ve got to be patient just a little bit more,” Turner said.

This is a developing story. FOX5 will continue to bring you the latest.