Cannabis lounges are coming to Las Vegas. Is Sin City the next Amsterdam of weed tourism?
For the people of Elko, Nev., vice has always been a fact of life. Now, one long-time illegal vice is suddenly out in the open.
- Las Vegas became the first city in Nevada to legalize ‘social use venues’ for cannabis
- Gaming companies are worried because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug federally
- The law doesn’t cover The Strip, which is in Clark County — not the city of Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS – For two years, tourists here have dealt with a cannabis conundrum: All over this glittering town, there are shops selling weed — and nowhere to smoke it.
That soon will change.
The Las Vegas City Council this month voted to allow existing dispensaries to apply for permits to open consumption lounges where tourists can use marijuana products in a cozy setting, perhaps with a meal and some live entertainment.
While the whiff of legal marijuana smoke floating around Las Vegas has entrepreneurs hopeful about the industry’s future, it has the gaming industry wondering and worrying about this question: Will Las Vegas become the next Amsterdam?
A legal path to pot lounges in Las Vegas marks a victory for cannabis investors now poised to capitalize on a unique brand of pot tourism with a Sin City twist. But this new genre also represents a potential threat to gaming companies worried the recreational weed trade could siphon tourists – and their cash – from a casino corridor struggling to increase profits.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, co-sponsor of Senate Bill 302 holds a strain of marijuana named after him, the “Segerblom Haze” at Blum medical marijuana dispensary on Friday. (Photo: Jenny Kane/RGJ)
Considered Nevada’s pot ambassador, Clark County Commissioner and former state senator Tick Segerblom is putting his money on Las Vegas becoming the next holy land of weed tourism.
“We’re the new Amsterdam,” he said.
That should be a concern to gaming companies, Segerblom told the USA TODAY Network.
“They’re concerned about (lounges) making money outside the hotels,” Segerblom said. “They’re worried the longer this goes outside hotels, the more established they’ll get. As a business person, I would be concerned too.”
A nervous gaming industry — and a cannabis industry waiting to pounce
As president of the National Resort Association, Virginia Valentine’s job is to protect the interests of the lobbying group’s central clientele: gaming companies.
Lately, she’s been the the shield between casinos and cannabis.
“As long as it’s federally illegal, we can’t have it on the property,” Valentine told the USA TODAY Network. “We’re trying to create that separation.”
Because the federal government recognizes cannabis as an illicit substance, gaming giants remain reluctant to join hands with the weed industry.
On May 1, less than a month after a bill to legalize weed lounges in Nevada died in the state Legislature, Valentine urged the Las Vegas City Council to halt the push for pot lounges to allow state legislators to plot a forward path.
In this Saturday, July 1, 2017, photo, people line up at the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana sales have exceeded the expectations of Las Vegas area store owners. (Photo: John Locher, AP)
“We can’t wait for the state to act,” said Councilman Bob Coffin, the city bill’s sponsor.
Valentine asked for a 1,500-foot buffer between gaming establishments and cannabis lounges, and the city compromised at 1,000 feet. The city passed the ordinance, 4-1, making Las Vegas the first city in the state to legalize “social use venues.”
After the city builds an application, 20 dispensaries – already open or forthcoming in Las Vegas this year – can apply for licenses to open lounges prohibited from selling alcohol.
“What they’re really trying to target are the tourists coming into Las Vegas.”
Stavros Anthony, the only Las Vegas councilman opposed to social use lounges for cannabis use
The ordinance excludes dispensaries on The Strip, which is controlled by Clark County, not the city of Las Vegas, as well as Henderson and North Las Vegas.
The single dissenting vote came from Councilman Stavros Anthony, a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police captain and gaming industry ally.
The cannabis industry, he said, is after the most important ingredient in the Las Vegas profit recipe.
“What they’re really trying to target are the tourists coming into Las Vegas,” Anthony told the USA TODAY Network. “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.”
Las Vegas is like an amusement park — where will cannabis fit in?
If Las Vegas is an amusement park, cannabis is the newest ride, but gaming operators aren’t ready to buy a ticket and buckle up.
“Las Vegas, in many ways, is like a Six Flags that has to add a new roller coaster every summer – or people stop coming,” said Bo Bernhard, executive director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute. “It’s a fascinating chapter that will be interesting to see whether (marijuana lounges are) something that draws folks – and, of course, there are concerns it will draw folks away from the resorts.”
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The gaming community’s conservative stance on cannabis and unwavering commitment to regulators is in line with the story of Las Vegas, where the Nevada Gaming Control Board has long served as the law-and-order arm in a land often perceived as the vice capital of the wild west.
The gaming board, Bernhard said, has always been the governor on the golf cart to make sure it doesn’t go careening off the cliff and into the pond.
“The conservatism isn’t ungrounded,” Bernhard said. “It’s not without merit. The gaming regulatory system has been wary given the federal government’s reticence here as it pertains to cannabis policy.”
Revelers watch at Drai’s nightclub as fireworks explode on the Las Vegas Strip during a New Year’s celebration Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Photo: John Locher, AP)
Nevertheless, cannabis is something Vegas vacationers want to engage. And they’ll be able to do so – outside the confines of the traditional casino-resort.
That could pose a problem for resorts turning profits out of the soon-to-be competitors of marijuana lounges: Nightclubs.
“The nightclub is a profit center,” Bernhard said. “The nightclub is a place where margins based on massive mark-ups of things like bottles of alcohol are generating huge amounts of money to the bottom line. Something that obviously threatens that revenue stream is something that is going to be a concern.”
‘It’s time to move on’
Ask John Mueller, CEO of Las Vegas-based Acres Cannabis, whether the city will become the new Amsterdam, and it becomes apparent he has a different goal in mind: Helping Sin City overshadow the charming European city of vice and weed-friendly coffeehouses.
“We are better at entertainment, and we are better at controlling vices. You put those two together, and you’ve got a one-two punch of creating another tourist destination.”
John Mueller, CEO of Las Vegas-based Acres Cannabis on comparing Las Vegas to Amsterdam
“We are better at entertainment, and we are better at controlling vices,” Mueller said. “You put those two together, and you’ve got a one-two punch of creating another tourist destination. You pull back the veil on cannabis and all of a sudden it’s not as scary as [Ronald] Reagan told us.”
In March, Mueller sold Acres, a 19,000 square-foot dispensary, for $70 million. He stayed on board to usher the company into the pot lounge era. Mueller aims to roll out a brand of lounge that rivals what a tourist might find in U.S. cities like San Francisco and Denver.
The consumption lounge at Acres will include a concert hall and full-service kitchen launched with the Morton family – founders of famed Morton’s The Steakhouse in Chicago.
“You’re going to see an elevated experience over something you’ve seen in Amsterdam or these little boutique places,” Mueller said.
As for the menu?
“I think you can basically – tongue-in-cheek – make fun of yourself with Dorito sandwiches and pizza the size of your head,” Mueller said. “Tongue-in-cheek but delicious.”
The next chapter for the cannabis movement
A cyclist pedals over a bridge over the Leidsegracht canal in Amsterdam, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Photo: Michael Corder, AP)
For decades, Segerblom said, policymakers have been beholden to the gaming industry.
Marijuana lounges advancing in Las Vegas represents the start of a new chapter that departs from the old Nevada narrative, Segerblom said:
“We’re not going to let you dictate what our policy is. We have millions of dollars and millions of tourists coming here with no place to use (cannabis). We can’t sit around and wait for the federal government to change its mind. It’s time to move on.”
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here .The legal path to consumption lounges in Las Vegas marks a victory for cannabis entrepreneurs poised to capitalize on new brand of pot tourism.
Is Selling Drugs A Sin?
All the time teens ask is selling weed a sin? This is a very common question, but to get to the point whether you’re selling cocaine, pills, marijuana, lean, it doesn’t matter. Selling any type of drug is a sin. Do you think God would ever be pleased with the dangerous lifestyle of drug dealing? Never enter the devil’s playground .
No child of God should even think of living that type of lifestyle even if we could gain a lot of money. We don’t live for money we live for Christ! The love of money will indeed send you to hell. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
First we are not to hang out with drug dealers. People like this will lead you astray from Christ.
1 Corinthians 5:11 Now, what I meant was that you should not associate with people who call themselves brothers or sisters in the Christian faith but live in sexual sin, are greedy, worship false gods, use abusive language, get drunk, or are dishonest. Don’t eat with such people.
Proverbs 6:27-28 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned ? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
Sorcery means drug use. God said these people won’t enter into Heaven. If it’s a sin to use it, then it’s a sin to sell it.
Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,idolatry, sorcery , hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these . Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 You know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God, don’t you? You do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought for a price. Therefore, glorify God with your bodies.
Romans 12:1-2 I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is —what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.
Dishonest gain is a sin.
Proverbs 13:11 Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears ; wealth from hard work grows over time.
Proverbs 28:20 A trustworthy person has many blessings, but anyone in a hurry to get rich will not escape punishment.
Proverbs 20:17 Food gained dishonestly tastes sweet to a person , but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel.
Proverbs 23:4 Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.
Proverbs 21:6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
Would God want you to sell something that is hurting others?
Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Proverbs 4:16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
Why would God want you to be in a dangerous situation where you could possibly die?
Ecclesiastes 7:17 Do not be overwicked , and do not be a fool why die before your time ?
Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
The world and ungodly musicians promote drugs. Christians are not to be like the world.
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Timothy 6:9-10 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
We must obey the law federal and state.
Romans 13:1-5 Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God’s permission. The existing authorities have been established by God, so that whoever resists the authorities opposes what God has established, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For the authorities are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you like to live without being afraid of the authorities? Then do what is right, and you will receive their approval. For they are God’s servants, working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for it is not without reason that they bear the sword. Indeed, they are God’s servants to administer punishment to anyone who does wrong. Therefore, it is necessary for you to be acquiescent to the authorities, not only for the sake of God’s punishment, but also for the sake of your own conscience.
We can’t sin on purpose saying I’ll just repent later. God knows your heart and mind.
Galatians 6:7 Don’t be misled you cannot mock the justice of God . You will always harvest what you plant.
Hebrews 10:26-27 Dear friends , if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins . There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.
1 John 3:8-10 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. T hose who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
God would never guide someone to make a living off of something that can bring that person to jail or harm them. Trust God and lean not on your own understanding, Christians don’t partake in evil. The devil is very crafty. God said 1 Peter 5:8 keep your mind clear, and be alert your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
You must be saved! Make sure that you are truly Christian. Don’t close this page. Please click on this link! Make sure that if you died today you would be with God.All the time teens ask is selling weed a sin? This is a very common question, but to get to the point whether you're selling cocaine, pills, marijuana, lean, it ]]>