Sisolak’s bill protects casinos from weed consumption lounges

leaf for you
Claudia Weingart / EyeEm/ Getty Images
leaf for you
Claudia Weingart / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Gov. Steve Sisolak wants the state to take over regulation of the cannabis industry in much the same way it regulates gambling.

And like gaming establishments, the governor’s proposal, Assembly Bill 533, calls for cannabis lounges to be separated from schools, parks and churches.  And even farther from casinos.

Yes, casinos.

The bill calls for weed lounges to be at least 300 feet from “community facilities,” which include child care facilities, parks, playgrounds, public pools, recreation centers, and places of worship.

It requires 1,000 feet between weed lounges and schools.

The bill also calls for weed lounges to be at least 1,500 feet from “an establishment that holds a non-restricted gaming license.”

Sisolak’s office did not immediately respond to the Current’s inquiry regarding the distance requirements.

An amendment offered by the Nevada Resort Association (NRA) seeks to expand the 1,500 foot buffer to all marijuana establishments, not just consumption lounges.

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Industry testified regarding the incompatibility of the gaming and cannabis industries.

“Our members hold these licenses in states were cannabis is not legal,” Valentine testified. “Violation of control board guidance or flouting federal law” could lead to a suitability hearing, losing a license or significant fines for licensees.

“We are asking for protection for the industry. The tourism industry employs about 450,000 people in Nevada. It provides hundreds of millions in capital investment. It is over 37 percent of the state’s general fund revenue,” Valentine told lawmakers.

The amendment offered by the NRA would grandfather in existing marijuana businesses within 1,500 feet, but not necessarily consumption lounges, according to Sisolak’s general counsel, Brin Gibson.

“There are existing dispensaries and licensees that are within 1,500 feet of non-restricted gaming licensees. And so one of the problems is if they are in place right now, they are operating under the former rules, they were licensed, they stood up their businesses, they spent money,” Gibson testified. “There’s no right to a consumption license but if there’s not a way of grandfathering some of these licensees in that are within the 1,500 foot threshold, they’ll be essentially boxed out based on a new set of rules.”

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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