LAS VEGAS — A bill allowing local governments to issue permits for marijuana social clubs has passed in the Nevada Senate.
The bill passed 12-9 Tuesday and next will be reviewed by the Assembly, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The bill was mainly drafted for the tourism industry in Las Vegas. Tourists do not have a safe place to use recreational marijuana, which is legal in Nevada, lawmakers said.
Tourists will soon be able to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, but will have no place to use it. The law that took effect Jan. 1 makes it so people can only consume pot at a private residence.
Not having lounges would cause tourists to bring the drug into casino properties and “dump the responsibility onto the resort corridor,” said Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands Corp. senior vice president.
Pot lounges in Clark County would be located on the Las Vegas Strip, Abboud said.
Lawmakers in favor of the bill say the lounges will play an important part in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s two-year budget, which calls for about $70 million from a special marijuana sales tax.
“We’re trying to get $70 million in tax revenue from them, so let’s give them some place to use it,” bill sponsor State Sen. Tick Segerblom said.
State Sen. Don Gustavson voted against the bill because he thinks those who voted for the marijuana ballot measure in November did so thinking that people would only be able to consume marijuana in their homes, he said.
Another worry for lawmakers is that President Donald Trump’s administration will bring federal drug enforcers into states that enact social clubs.
Lawmakers stopped a bill in Colorado earlier this month because of that concern. Denver voters did, however, approve a measure in November similar to the bill.
The Denver law allows for businesses to apply for marijuana consumption licenses.
Dan Rowland, spokesman for the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, said the department is still crafting those regulations and hopes to start taking applications by the end of summer, with the first clubs opening possibly by the end of the year.
In Alaska, lawmakers delayed a law allowing consumption in dispensaries. Maine is considering a similar move.
No other states allowing recreational marijuana have approved public social clubs yet.