■ Clark County of­fi­cials are in no rush to au­tho­rize mar­i­juana lounges.

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Colton Lochhead

Could the nation’s first le­gal and li­censed mar­i­juana lounge end up in South­ern Ne­vada?

The short an­swer? Yes, tech­ni­cally. The long an­swer? It’s com­pli­cated. “There’s no rush,” Clark County Com­mis­sioner Chris Gi­unchigliani said Fri­day.

The Ne­vada Leg­is­la­ture’s lawyers threw a curve­ball to lo­cal gov­ern­ments last week with a le­gal opin­ion say­ing noth­ing in the state law pro­hibits mar­i­juana con­sump­tion lounges.

After months of fol­low­ing the guid­ance of the state in nav­i­gat­ing the le­gal­iza­tion process, lo­cal gov­ern­ments are poised to de­cide whether they want to move for­ward with some­thing that no city in the nation has done — li­cense and reg­u­late so­cial con­sump­tion lounges.

Not so fast

Although elected lo­cal of­fi­cials have an ap­petite for cannabis clubs, even the most pro-pot law­mak­ers like Gi­unchigliani are pump­ing the brakes.

Gi­unchigliani said she ini­tially op­posed con­sump­tion lounges, but she’s seen the need for them since recre­ational mar­i­juana sales started July 1.

Smok­ing in pub­lic is il­le­gal, and all casi­nos have been told to ban it on their prop­er­ties. Gi­unchigliani said tourists com­plain they have no place to smoke the drug they bought legally in Las Ve­gas.

“We’ve put peo­ple at risk of vi­o­lat­ing the law,” she said. “They’re gonna con­sume some­place.”

But Gi­unchigliani said that’s not enough rea­son to im­me­di­ately li­cense such lounges.

“We have to do this right,” she said. North Las Ve­gas City Coun­cil­man Isaac Bar­ron said “the time has come” for le­gal­ized pot lounges. But he said rush­ing blindly to open con­sump­tion lounges with­out due dili­gence “would be con­trary to what we want to achieve in le­gal­iza­tion.”

“There’s a lot of things we need to work out,” Bar­ron said.

Mov­ing slow in Den­ver

Den­ver is the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity that has le­gal con­sump­tion lounges on the books after vot­ers in the city ap­proved a bal­lot mea­sure last Novem­ber.

But see­ing those lounges be­come a re­al­ity in the Mile-High City is still a ways off.

Den­ver started tak­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for what it calls so­cial con­sump­tion per­mits last month, but of­fi­cials told the lo­cal mag­a­zine West­word that it could take sev­eral months, at min­i­mum, be­fore those spots can open.

In Ne­vada, Clark County ap­pears to be the most pre­pared en­tity to jump into the pot lounge arena, and county com­mis­sion­ers are poised to dis­cuss the topic on Tues­day.

The county’s Green Rib­bon Ad­vi­sory Panel, which con­sists of mar­i­juana, gam­ing and tourism in­dus­try lead­ers, has dis­cussed the topic at length since March and has con­sid­ered a one-year pi­lot pro­gram to start.

But not ev­ery­one is on board with the idea.

Tread care­fully

Com­mis­sioner Su­san Brager said she has too many unan­swered ques­tions

about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the lounges to al­low them to be­gin op­er­at­ing in Clark County.

Among other ques­tions, Brager wanted to know who would be able to operate a lounge, where they could and could not be lo­cated, what kind of ven­ti­la­tion they would be re­quired to have and where the mar­i­juana prod­ucts con­sumed in­side them would come from.

Brager said she’d like the county to hold a town hall on the is­sue. Liv­ing up to its prom­ise of be­ing a gold stan­dard for recre­ational mar­i­juana would re­quire in­put from cit­i­zens, she said.

“I think we’re mov­ing too quickly still,” Brager said. “Once you open up the door, where does it go from there?”

Gov. Brian San­doval also op­poses pot lounges, and though lo­cal gov­ern­ments have all the say in whether to al­low them, San­doval’s re­luc­tance could prompt trep­i­da­tion.

San­doval said hav­ing le­gal bar­like lo­ca­tions for mar­i­juana use could draw the ire of the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions — who many in the mar­i­juana in­dus­try view as one of their top op­po­nents.

“I think that this might in­vite more (fed­eral) scru­tiny with re­gard to the sale of recre­ational mar­i­juana,” San­doval said last week.

Gi­unchigliani said lo­cal gov­ern­ments should take the gov­er­nor’s com­ments to heart.

“I’m not so much wor­ried about be­ing first,” she said. “We don’t want to do any­thing that puts a bull’s-eye on our heads.”

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