Photo by NuWu Cannabis

Industry | 11.29.2021

The Next Steps For Cannabis Consumption Lounges That Are Coming To A City Near You

When should we start seeing more cannabis cafes and lounges?

Now that recreational cannabis legalization is taking the U.S. by storm, many wonder what the next steps are for legal, safe, and public cannabis consumption.

Alaska was the first state to legalize cannabis consumption lounges in 2019, but there’s still a shortage three years later, thanks to the expensive cost and other restrictions. On the other hand, Illinois’ consumption lounges are BOYB (bring your own bud), but there are few and far between.

There are other states like Michigan that haven’t opened a single lounge yet. Excessive regulations keep weed lounges and cafes from spreading around California and Colorado; there is only a handful in the states’ major cities.

Lawmakers are looking to change that. Starting with Colorado and California, state administrators have adopted a few legal changes to lessen the burden of opening a cannabis consumption lounge and cafe. This week, Denver will begin accepting applications from social equity applicants for cannabis hospitality licenses.

Photo by Moe Greens

New York and New Mexico also enacted measures to allow on-site cannabis consumption, and Nevada is hoping to adopt more cannabis consumption lounges. Nevada only has one lounge, sitting on tribal land and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe.

Dispensaries are allowed to apply to become a cannabis consumption lounge, and lawmakers are allowed to issue 20 independent cannabis lounge licenses before July 2022. In more good news, half of these licenses must go to social equity applicants, which means businesses owned by individuals adversely affected by cannabis-related crimes.

During a panel at MJ Unpacked last month, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association Layke Martin explained how many retailers are still a ways away from building their lounge spaces. This is because there needs to be proper ventilation due to odor and poor air quality.

Photo by Foram Mehta

The CEO of Cannect Hospitality, Jenn Tramaglino, told guests at MJ Unpacked that businesses creating cannabis lounges should expect to spend double their initial estimates. She continued that lounges will not only have to have an HVAC system for the entire space, “but for each of the individual spaces inside it.”

There’s also the issue of social equity applicants having proper access to capital, but Clark County is preparing to implement a fund for these applicants from its municipal marijuana revenue. The county spends roughly $12 million in yearly marijuana revenue for homelessness programs.

Now, any generated revenue the county earns above $12 million will fund social equity applicants and go towards other cannabis-related endeavors.

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