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Las Vegas OKs marijuana lounge regulations

By Ricardo Torres-Cortez

Las Vegas Review-Journal

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The yearslong vision of cannabis consumption lounges within Las Vegas came a step closer to reality Wednesday after the City Council approved regulations for the establishments. But after a unanimous vote, questions remained about where the council will allow the businesses to open. At issue is a waivable 1,000-foot separation between lounges that could bulldoze the concept of an “Amsterdam of the West” that license holders hope for the downtown Las Vegas area.

The waiver — which provisional license-holders advocated against — allows the council discretion to approve or deny licenses.

“For those folks that might think that the 1,000-foot waiver would preclude someone from coming to this council with an interesting idea that you might want to consider, it doesn’t,” said Jim Lewis, a deputy city attorney.

Opponents said the waiver makes it difficult to find a place to rent, and the uncertainty allows for them to get stuck in long-term leases only to have their concept rejected by the city. City staff said Seattle, San Diego and Denver have a 1,000-foot separation between consumption lounges. “You have an opportunity in front of you to not have unnecessary barriers,” said Paul Murad, a real estate professional who has been lobbying for the prospective applicants. “Any one of you can be that progressive, paradigm-shifting person that changes that, because currently you always look at another city, another jurisdiction, but you don’t have to do that.”

New territory