If all goes as planned, it would appear that Nevada will be the first state to allow recreational users to consume marijuana in clubs and lounges. The beginning of September, the state Legislative Counsel Bureau confirmed that state law does not prohibit city or county governments from operating a lounge in which patrons may use marijuana. The bureau went on to say that cities and counties are allowed to adopt their own rules governing those businesses; they are also allowed to decide whether those businesses are required to obtain special permits.
At present, public smoking is banned under state law in Nevada’s hotels and casino. Nevada is not alone on this. Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon – the four other states where recreational marijuana use is legal – also do not allow public use of marijuana in lounges or other facilities. Recreational use is restricted to private residences.
There are three other states – California, Massachusetts and Maine – that are finalizing rules in advance of legalized marijuana. Despite legalization advocates efforts, none of these states are currently considering legal pot lounges.
Tom Angell, the founder or Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group, says, “Allowing regulated social use areas is a good solution that recognizes cannabis consumers’ rights to congregate just like alcohol drinkers can in bars while also protecting nonconsumers’ rights not to inhale secondhand smoke.”
However, there are many legalization skeptics that are still concerned about what marijuana stores and lounges in their community will lead to. Many are worried that it will increase the risk of crime associated with the industry. While these skeptics do not necessarily want marijuana users to go to jail for using, they are not ready for pot clubs to move into their neighborhood.
“Data show that areas around marijuana stores have higher crime and issues with second-hand smoke and other nuisances. I can’t imagine pot clubs will be a good thing for the state,” says Kevin Sabet, who heads the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
There are also concerns that the Trump administration may reverse a long-standing Obama administration agreement; this agreement deemphasized prosecutions of marijuana-related businesses in states that have legalized marijuana. Not knowing which direction the Justice Department will decide to go, many are worried about potential legal issues.
Marijuana businesses already struggle to find the services they need to operate safely. If the Justice Department chooses to shift their stance, it will definitely make day-to-day business operations even more difficult. Most banks refuse to work with marijuana merchant, due to the risks of the industry and heavy federal regulation.
The safest options for these merchants are either operating in cash (obviously extremely unsafe, not to mention impractical) or finding an alternative processor like Marijuana Merchant Account (MMA). Depending on the business type, merchants can secure either a recreational or medical marijuana merchant account to sell marijuana in as little as 24 hours.