Proposal for mobile marijuana sales at live events faces heated debate across Nevada

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 10:31 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A proposal to create a special permit for marijuana sales at live events has stirred debate within the Nevada cannabis industry, with insiders for and opposed to the concept.

Assembly Bill 253 would create a portable vendor license and a temporary event permit for cannabis sales of products sold within dispensaries. There would be limits on licenses per jurisdiction, and social equity applicants would get priority for permits.

Across the Entertainment Capital of the World, visitors often consume or notice the smell of marijuana in public places at live events; public consumption is prohibited, except for within residences and marijuana lounges. “This bill aims to direct consumption to a controlled atmosphere, a controlled and monitored place,” Senator C.H. Miller said. A live event would have a designated spot for consumption, he said.

Miller told the Assembly Judiciary Committee that social equity applicants would benefit greatly from the business opportunity. The state has been working to help minorities and people of color enter the industry, but still face financial hurdles to start a small business and negotiate contracts, leases and loans.

Shane Terry of Taproot Brands, with six dispensaries throughout northern Nevada and a production and cultivation facility in Las Vegas, is eager to bring cannabis into event spaces where there’s already a demand. His girlfriend Dana Kay is behind Rooted Lounge, and provides sound therapy classes throughout Downtown Las Vegas.

We want to see cannabis be accessible to people when they want it, and where they want it. Cannabis is so deeply rooted in music and culture and arts and events,” Terry said.

A spokesperson for two Las Vegas-based dispensaries voiced opposition. Current license operations are already significant under significant financial pressure from declining sales and illegal market competition.

“As a firm that has experience with evaluating drafting cannabis event policy, we have several grave concerns about A.B. 253. It would create three new license types, thereby diluting the integrity of current license operations, which are already significant under significant financial pressure from declining sales and illegal market competition,” spokesperson Esther Badiata said on behalf of Planet 13 and Jardin.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also voiced concerns over DUIs and the lack of state experience with overconsumption prevention within lounges. Alcohol is prohibited at lounges, as a DUI prevention measure.

“In the bill, there is no prohibition for any event to allow the consumption of both marijuana and alcohol. There have been zero lounges open. To allow cannabis consumption at temporary events without knowing the successes and pitfalls. and without any data or experience with consumption lounges in Nevada would be irresponsible,” said Chris Ries of LVMPD.

Terry argues that dispensaries would be eager to provide shuttles and encourage safe transportation; some music festivals across Nevada encourage camping among attendees.

The Cannabis Compliance Board would ultimately have approval over what events could have temporary permits.