Las Vegas, Which Just Authorized Cannabis Lounges, Aspires to be the 'New Amsterdam'

The tourist mecca will be one of the few U.S. jurisdictions that give visitors a place where they can legally use the marijuana they can legally buy.


More than two years after Nevada legalized marijuana for recreational use, Las Vegas will soon become one of the few jurisdictions in the country to license cannabis consumption lounges. The lack of locations where visitors can legally consume the marijuana they can legally buy has been especially glaring in Las Vegas, which attracts 43 million tourists a year and is home to the world's largest cannabis emporium.

This month the Las Vegas City Council approved an ordinance authorizing licenses for "social-use venues," which must be physically separated from pot stores and may not sell alcohol. For the first year the licenses will be limited to businesses that are already authorized to sell marijuana. Councilman Bob Coffin, who sponsored the ordinance, said he expects those businesses to open lounges adjacent to their retail locations.

The ordinance does not apply to the Las Vegas Strip, which is under the jurisdiction of Clark County. But the city has dozens of marijuana dispensaries that can now apply for permission to create venues where their customers can consume their products. The licenses cost $5,000 a year, and the lounges must be at least 1,000 feet from schools and casinos. Entry will be limited to adults 21 or older (Nevada's marijuana purchase age), and patrons will not be allowed to use cannabis products outdoors or in view of the general public.

"We're the new Amsterdam," exulted Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, a former state legislator who introduced a 2017 bill that would have explicitly legalized locally licensed cannabis consumption spaces. While that bill did not pass, Nevada's Legislative Counsel Bureau concluded that state law already allows such businesses.

Question 2, the legalization initiative that Nevada voters approved in 2016, makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by a $600 fine, to consume marijuana in a store that sells it or in any "public place," defined as "an area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted regardless of age." The Las Vegas ordinance is designed to meet those requirements.

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that Acres Cannabis, which operates a 19,000-square-foot store at 2320 Western Avenue, plans to open a consumption space that "will include a concert hall and full-service kitchen launched with the Morton family," founders of the Morton's steakhouse chain. Acres CEO John Mueller brags that "you're going to see an elevated experience over something you've seen in Amsterdam or these little boutique places" in cities such as San Francisco.

The casino and resort industry remains leery of marijuana, which is still federally illegal. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has warned that pot-friendly casinos could lose their licenses. Now the prospect of a better-than-Amsterdam experience for visitors who want to use marijuana threatens to draw business away from resorts and nightclubs that are not allowed to welcome cannabis consumers.

"What they're really trying to target are the tourists coming into Las Vegas," Councilman Stavros Anthony, a gaming industry ally who cast the sole vote against allowing cannabis lounges, told the Gazette Journal. "That's really where the money is. That's always where it's been. These consumption lounges are really the first attempt to gather in the tourists that want to smoke marijuana here in Nevada."

Segerblom thinks the casinos are right to be worried. "They're concerned about [cannabis lounges] making money outside the hotels," he told the paper. "They're worried [that] the longer this goes outside hotels, the more established they'll get. As a business person, I would be concerned too."

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  1. Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can’t say. People just liked it better that way.

    1. The answer can be found in the names themselves. The city was originally founded by dutch colonists (hence New Amsterdam) but was later taken over by English colonists (hence the change to New York). And all of that happened before the American Revolution.

      1. So then why did they change Constantinople to Istanbul, and who’s business is it, anyway?

        1. The Turks.

        2. See my comment below. It was originally Byzantium, was conquered by the Roman empire and renamed Constantinople when the Roman Emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Roman empire. Later Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul.

          Whose business is it? It’s the business of anyone who want’s to understand the history of the city.

          1. Learn a song or two, slyfield.

            1. Party pooper.

      2. Istanbul follows a similar pattern.
        It was founded in the 7th century BCE as Byzantium, was conquered by the Roman empire in the 2nd century AD, in the 4th century AD The Roman Emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Roman Empire and re-named it Constantinople after himself.

        Finally, it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and renamed to the current Istanbul in the 15th century AD.

        1. it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and renamed to the current Istanbul in the 15th century AD.

          “Constantinople” was no more “re-named” “Istanbul” than “Londinium” was renamed “London” or “Eoforwic” was renamed “York.” “Istanbul” is what happens when you pronounce “Constantinople” quickly and often, with a Turkish accent.

          /never try to out-pedant a pedant

          1. Silly Turks! Can’t even pronounce their own capitol cities name correctly!

    2. You can’t go back to Constantinople, Leo.

      1. So if I’ve a date in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Istanbul?

        1. Not unless she’s a vampire, because It hasn’t been Constantinople since the 15th century. Why would you want to date a 600+ year old woman anyway?

          1. And if she is still around, how happy do you think she’ll be when you show up 600 years late?

          2. I agree. Been a long time gone, Constantinople.

            What if it’s 2 women and They Might Be Giants?

            1. Straight man is straight.

            2. What if it’s 2 women and They Might Be Giants?


              1. What if it’s 3 women and They might Be Giants?

                1. Would x 3

                2. What if it’s 3 women and They might Be Giants?

                  I must concede that that beats Four Lads, yeah.

              2. Wow, you learn something new everyday.

                1. Not to show off, but . . .

          3. 600 year old vampire chicks are hawt

  2. Stoners don’t gamble, so not a problem.

  3. If LV didn’t have enough of a problem with the homeless, vagrants, and freak shows. Your only option now is to hold up in your suite at the Palazzo and never set foot outside.

    1. While in favor of legalization, since Vegas legalized, every 30 yards or so you get a whiff of skunk-ass weed, making it less and less attractive as a tourist. If they have lounges with great air filters, that would help solve a growing problem… But I think most folks are just going to smoke in stairwells and behind the homeless peoples. Looking forward to more sports books outside of NV.

      1. Just move people towards vaping if they want to toke up in public. It removes the olfactory nuisance.

  4. Casinos hate stoners and love alcoholics.

    1. They want people to lose their inhibitions, not be too lazy to head down to the floor.

      1. They want people to lose their inhibitions, not be too lazy to head down to the floor.

        Where they then stand paralyzed by indecision until the urge to get a snack overwhelms them and they head to the buffet.

  5. novelty i suppose to have a lounge for it but again lack of a lounge or legality in general never stopped me or anyone else i know

  6. Aspires to be the ‘New Amsterdam’

    A place where marijuana is illegal and “coffee shops” aren’t allowed to sell to anyone without ID or lives on the wrong side of The Wall?

    1. And, while admittedly it has been a long time since I’ve been to A-dam, the “coffee shops” were decidedly not lounges. Unless they serve food, you get about 10 minutes to smoke whatever you bought before your ass better be vacating that table.

  7. Gambling will soon be legal everywhere, to include sports betting. They need to have a reason for people to go to Las Vegas and this is promising, presuming Marijuana lounges won’t be available everywhere soon too. Then they can market the wonders of the Hoover Dam.

    1. They’ll still have an incumbents advantage. I doubt any new gambling/partying based city will grow up to be anywhere near as big and crazy as Vegas anytime in the next few decades. Gambling is legal in Washington, and Seattle has numerous casinos… None of them are nearly as big or awesome as the shit in Vegas really.

  8. You’re sending me tulips mistaken for lilies
    You give me your lip after punching me silly
    You turned my head till it rolled down the brain drain
    If I had any sense now I wouldn’t want it back again
    New Amsterdam it’s become much too much
    Till I have the possession of everything she touches
    Till I step on the brake to get out of her clutches
    Till I speak double dutch to a real double duchess

      1. The Coen Brothers remake Leaving Las Vegas with the Dude as the lead.

        The Dude is driving to Las Vegas from LA, after his special lady friend, Maude, seduces him for his sperm.

        Against his better judgement, the Dude fell for Maude. But she wanted nothing to do with Jeffery, who she saw as of the inferior class.

        So now the Due is driving to LA, in his 1973 Gran Torino, drowning his sorrows with White Russians and marijuana.

        After finding a motel room, the Dude wanders over to a nearby marijuana lounge where he starts a friending with a bud tender named Mindy.

        Trouble ensues…

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