Las Vegas City Council Approves Cannabis Consumption Lounges

The Las Vegas strip is about to get even more lit.

Members of the city council cleared the way for the opening of cannabis consumption lounges, voting 5-1 on Wednesday against a motion that would have had Las Vegas opt out of allowing those businesses, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The vote came after the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board in June gave its final sign off on the establishments.

The board laid out procedures for would-be lounge owners at the time.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in a June release. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

That final regulatory approval came nearly a year after Nevada state lawmakers approved funding for the Cannabis Compliance Board, which has been charged with overseeing the consumption lounges in the state.

Cities in Nevada could opt out of allowing the consumption lounges in their jurisdictions. According to the Review-Journal, by “not responding to a letter from the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board earlier this month, the city automatically opted in to the licensing process, but still had an opportunity Wednesday to change course.”

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman filed the motion to opt out, but it was voted down 5-1 on Monday.

Seaman said constituents had told her that “they would rather not have them in the residential areas and have them more in the tourist areas, so, I’m not going to be supporting this,” as quoted by the Review-Journal.

But others view the lounges as yet another boon for Las Vegas’ vibrant tourism industry. It will also provide refuge for the thousands of out-of-towners who descend upon the city each week. As local news station KSNV put it, the state’s “current law leaves many from out of town consuming the drug illegally, either on the streets or a hotel room,” but the cannabis lounges will change that.

According to the Review-Journal, the lounges “will allow marijuana customers to smoke the drug legally for the first time outside of private homes since voters legalized recreational use in 2016.”

“I think it’s important for the city to consider the business opportunity that consumption lounges will bring, and also some relief of issues we’re currently hearing about a lot because we’re not offering a place for folks to actually consume when they buy,” Councilwoman Olivia Diaz told the Review-Journal after the vote on Wednesday. “We have still some way to go and some more work to do.”

The newspaper reported that there will be 20 licenses awarded throughout the state for cannabis consumption lounges, half of which will be given to social equity applicants, individuals from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

The Cannabis Compliance Board announced earlier this month that the application period for prospective cannabis consumption lounge owners will open on October 14 and conclude on October 22.

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Nevada Judge Orders State Board to Remove Cannabis from Schedule 1

Despite the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes in Nevada, police continue to arrest people for possession as the state’s Board of Pharmacy refuses to reschedule cannabis—but that could soon change with a new ruling.

On September 14, a judge ordered the Nevada Board of Pharmacy to remove cannabis from its list of Schedule 1 substances, after ACLU Nevada filed a lawsuit last April.

“In order for a substance to be classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the Board of Pharmacy has to find that it has no medical value and cannot be safely distributed,” ACLU of Nevada Director of Communications and Campaigns Wes Juhl told High Times. “The Nevada Constitution, however, provides that cannabis has accepted medical uses as a matter of law—the Constitution even lists a number of diagnoses for which marijuana can be used as a treatment.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Schedule 1 substances are classified as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Cannabis is classified alongside drugs like heroin or LSD.

Clark County District Judge Joe Hardy ruled that listing cannabis under Schedule 1 is incongruent with the Nevada Constitution, because the Constitution explicitly states that cannabis has medical uses.

ACLU Nevada represents the Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community (CEIC). The case, CEIC v. Nevada Board of Pharmacy, was filed in Clark County court last April, according to a press release.

“Instead of treating cannabis like alcohol and removing it from the state’s list of controlled substances, Nevada is ignoring its state Constitution and the will of the people,” ACLU Nevada stated at the time.

ACLU Nevada sued the board on behalf of Antoinette Poole, who was convicted of possession of cannabis. Busted in 2017, Poole was charged with a Class E felony.

While the judge ruled in favor of Poole, the debate isn’t over: The judge didn’t rule on whether or not the board has the authority to regulate cannabis, because he asked both sides to submit orders on the issue for review.

“A finding of unconstitutionality of the specific statute underlying a conviction  could be a basis to overturn that conviction through a case where that relief is specifically sought,” Athar Haseebullah, executive director of ACLU Nevada, told the Nevada Current. “Just the same, charges moving forward won’t be permitted to be brought under this amorphous scheduling category where cannabis is listed next to heroin.”

The plaintiffs argued that the Board can’t restrict cannabis, because it isn’t restricted under state law.

“The Board can only schedule a substance under the restrictions placed by the Legislature, if that substance, one, has a high potential for abuse, and then two, either has no medical use or cannot be safely distributed,” ACLU Nevada Legal Director Chris Peterson told the judge.

The Board of Pharmacy’s general counsel Brett Kandt argued the federal status and classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance should apply in Nevada as well.

In several other states that have legalized cannabis, lawmakers have directed the Board of Pharmacy to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 as well.

Meanwhile other efforts to protect people convicted of cannabis-related charges are taking place in the state.

Last month, three nonprofit organizations—the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Nevada Legal Services, and Code for America—were granted a total of $1.2 million from cannabis tax revenue from the Clark County Commission. Code for America, which received $200,000 of this amount, will investigate how to implement automatic record sealing.

Bay Area-based Code for America in California has several months left to figure out what would be necessary to speed up this process. Some hope that it could bring attention back to Assembly Bill 192, also called the Nevada Second Chance Act, which was passed in 2019.

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Cannabis Knockout

Steve Cantwell spent the first two and a half decades of his life defying the odds, so it’s not entirely surprising seeing him do the same thing as a licensed cannabis cultivator. The 35-year-old former Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) fighter is living his best life as one of Nevada’s most innovative and pioneering growers in the Silver State’s legal cannabis industry. As co-owner and co-founder of Green Life Productions (GLP), along with his wife Kouanin, Cantwell and his dozen team members have built the privately-owned, boutique indoor farm near Las Vegas into one of the region’s most popular cultivators.

Selling to more than half of the Las Vegas Valley’s 85 open dispensaries, GLP is known for its superior quality created by a one-of-a-kind growing method. Since opening his grow house in 2015, Cantwell has pioneered and mastered the art of cultivating in no-till living organic soil that has been described as the purest, most natural way to grow cannabis.

“We’re the closest thing to nature for an indoor cultivation,” Cantwell says. “We don’t use any chemicals whatsoever, just the soil’s food web.”

Chasing Unicorns strain.

That food web, Cantwell says, creates a soil ecosystem in which organisms break down other organisms to create a healthy and resilient home for marijuana flower to grow. In abiding by the 12 principles of permaculture, he adds natural organisms to the soil—including compost tea, with natural fish and seaweed emulsions—to keep the ecosystem thriving.

Also key to Cantwell’s success: finding the right LED lights. GLP’s setup for its first few years in business produced above-average yields, but Cantwell knew he could do better. After connecting with Las Vegas-based Fohse in 2018, he found the answer to his prayers. With Fohse’s F1V model LED lights, which use 1,000 or 600 watts of electricity depending on the configuration, Cantwell says his yields increased by almost 25 percent compared to his old LED setup. Months later, he tried Fohse’s A3i model, which uses 1,500 watts at maximum power and is more suited for GLP’s high-bay single-level grows. The A3i outperformed even the F1V, all while using less energy than any other setup Cantwell had ever experimented with. Needless to say, he was a believer.

“Fohse changed the game for us,” Cantwell says. “The A3i is the best light source besides the sun for organic growing and nutrient cycling.”

Unlike most other LED lights designed for cannabis growing, Fohse’s FIV and A3i lights allow for a number of incredibly specific adjustments in timing and power. Those capabilities allow Cantwell to cultivate his plants and care for the soil based on his exact needs at any given time. For example, GLP starts a growth cycle using lower-power lighting during the first few weeks of a plant’s life. But by the end of the cycle as the trees near harvest, Cantwell and company intensify the lighting based on their desired yield volume and how they want to care for the soil. The first few cycles with Fohse yielded so much extra flower that GLP had to expand its facility to fit it all.

“It’s that good,” he says. “We have to pay attention now so that we don’t overgrow
the flower.”

Chasing Unicorns.

By paying close attention, Cantwell has been able to use the same soil for an incredible 27 cycles and counting. And the clean, sustainable grow does more than just help the environment. “The cannabis we produce is second-to-none because it’s completely organic,” he says. “Consumers can taste the difference, and that’s why we’ve been successful.”

Shopping for Green Life Productions products can feel almost like buying limited edition sneakers. You can find them just about everywhere in stores, but Cantwell posts about new and exclusive launches via a “drops” page on his company’s website. There, he lists dates for product debuts at up to 20 different dispensaries at a time. Want to be the first to cop Green Life’s MXBX or Miss Vegas strains? The drops page has exactly where and when buyers can find the new flower.

“The dispensaries love it, too, because they get people lining up outside the store on our launch days,” Cantwell says. “It’s been cool to see just how many people share our passion and excitement for new strains and products.”

Mac 1

Cantwell declined to share GLP’s revenue and profit tallies, but assured the numbers were big enough for the company to consider expansion. He admitted the pandemic has stalled several new projects and ideas for expanding the company, but hopes the coming year offers more opportunities as supply chain issues shore up and inflation slows down.

The sky’s the limit for GLP, but regardless of how big the business becomes, Cantwell knows making it this far has been a miracle. Afterall, his life didn’t start off all that promising.

Cantwell was born in Long Beach, CA, but moved with his family to Nevada when he was ten years old. He says his chances of making anything of his life looked slim back in his teenage years. A self-described “troubled kid,” Cantwell got booted from the city’s lone high school for fighting, leading him to confront the real world without a job or an education.

Luckily, he landed a job at a kickboxing gym in nearby Las Vegas, where he worked and trained from the age of 16. Within a couple of years, Cantwell was fighting professionally.

A decorated seven-year mixed martial arts career would go on to include almost four years fighting professionally in the UFC.

The road from high school dropout to pro fighter was a brief, albeit surprising one. Injuries forced Cantwell to retire at just 25 years old, leaving him to question what he’d do for the rest of his life. The money he’d earned and the notoriety he’d built offered a platform, but the lingering aches and injuries from his time in the Octagon threatened to limit his potential. Like so many others suffering from chronic pain, Cantwell ditched the addictive opioid meds and switched to cannabis. That decision helped him find his calling.

“I knew right away I wanted to help other people experience the same relief and healing that I was experiencing,” he said. “Thankfully, I had the right team to do it with. We’ve helped so many people and learned so much over the past few years, but we know our mission is still just beginning.”

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Brian Moreno Thinks Differently About Aliens And So Should You

In late September 2019, a group of individuals banded together around a Facebook event to breach the heavily guarded gates that surround the enigmatic structure known as Area 51. Among those in attendance were comedian, writer, and director Brian Moreno who had hired a cast and crew to capture footage of the experience.

In his new film Dreamland: A Storming Area 51 Story starring Moreno and fellow comedians Andy Kozel, Giff Pippin, and Natasha Pearl Henson, Moreno unpacks the origins of the event and what really went on during those mysterious fall days in Nevada.

When we connect by phone, Brian is optimistic the movie will be well received and divulges some of his filmmaking processes, his affinity for the term “alien,” and why he thinks being on stage and making movies is similar to cannabis horticulture.

Courtesy of Brian Moreno

High Times: You have been a comedian for most of your professional career. Where did the drive to be a filmmaker come from?

Brian Moreno: The first thing I ever wanted in the entertainment industry was to be a filmmaker. Being a comedian was actually secondary.

Like most young people, at first I thought I was going to be a famous, groundbreaking actor. When that doesn’t pan out for you as quickly as it does in your mind, I started to spread my wings and get into comedy and comedy just took over. When you’re a working comedian and traveling, it’s really hard to do anything else.

I’d had some success making short-form videos and knew the only way I’d get respect as a filmmaker would be to actually make a film. Something like Dreamland—a run-and-gun type shoot—with a story that was only in my brain, you’re not going to get funding for it unless you have some sort of proof-of-concept. And I didn’t. So I had the idea and it snowballed from idea into a film.

You say in the trailer you “Ended up making a movie you didn’t intend to make.” Do you feel that way with the final product?

That’s a line in the movie I think about all of the time. When I cried in that scene, I was overwhelmed because I knew with [the footage] I had, I could make a movie. I didn’t know if it was going to be the movie I envisioned because this is a feel-good documentary. As much as it is a comedy and a documentary, it’s a feel-good documentary, and you don’t find many of those.

Because this is a comedy, people are going to look at it differently, but I think to tell a story like the one we did, it’s not even about the storming of Area-51, it’s more about different colors of the rainbow coming together. The storming of Area-51 is just a vehicle that drives the story.

In that way, Area-51 is more of a backdrop than anything else.

Yeah, so that’s why if you’re into aliens, UFO-ology, or Area-51—or none of that—there’s something in this movie for you.

Courtesy of Brian Moreno

Aliens have long been associated with your persona. How did your fascination with aliens originate?

I try to explain this to people all the time. My fascination with aliens was never because of aliens. What attracted me to the word “alien” and why I always had an association with “alien” is because it means “foreign” or “different.” I always felt foreign or different compared to my surroundings, so that’s where the “alien” moniker came from.

As I became more and more informed about the mysteries of our universe, the alien theme and subject kept coming back up. A lot of people think I started out as an alien lover—and as much as I am an alienhead and UFO-lover—it all started out with the word “alien” just meaning “different.” That’s what I felt I related to the most.

With that being said, Dreamland I believe is one of the most comprehensive UFO documentaries—that’s also entertaining—that’s ever been made. A lot of the information I try to pack under the guise of comedy or within the storyline was done on purpose so that every individual character could represent a color of the ufology rainbow.

There are the people who are in total disbelief, there are people who just kind of dabble, there are people who think there might be a little bit of life out there but don’t exactly know what, and there are people who are hardcore believers. The parallel I try to make in the movie is that the people who believe in the UFOs and aliens and the space beings—there’s a parallel to what they’re doing and anyone who is religious. You can believe whatever you want, but if you put your faith into religion, you’re putting your faith into something that’s unseen, not understood, and can’t be explained. A lot of that is just blind faith in the same way a lot of these UFO enthusiasts believe. No matter where you stand on aliens or UFOs, there should be a relatable character to your point of view.

So the way into the movie for most will be through the characters, not so much from the alien-ness of it all.

Absolutely, and I think people will pick up on that immediately because of the Blair-Witchean way I open the movie, where it almost seems like it’s found footage.

However, there are people and there are critics. All of the test audiences who have screened the film seem to get it [and get the humor] but are the critics going to get it? I don’t know. It’s a really great question.

I am a cinephile and in terms of genre, this movie is cinéma vérité, which is basically the art of making a movie so that the audience feels like they’re a fly on the wall. That’s how this was made.

As much as it’s anxiety-inducing not knowing how the film will be received, at the same time, it’s got to feel pretty cool that it’s in its final form.

It does, but also—and maybe this is what made me a decent comic—I’m always thinking about what’s next or what I could do better. So yes, it is cool, and taking those moments to realize that is very important. I don’t know if I do that enough.

Courtesy of Brian Moreno

In terms of those moments, talk a bit more about the moment you realized you actually had something worthwhile.

It was the last night before we wrapped shooting and I knew I had an interesting film. But once I had the news footage added to [the edit], I knew for sure [the film] was worthy of distribution.

There are three elements to this story: The road trip, the news footage, and the interviews. Once I had that layered properly, I knew I had a real movie that told a full story, it just took two years to get there.

How similar or different is ‘Brian Moreno’ in the movie to Brian Moreno in real life?

I think the best way to describe it would be to compare it to the ‘Brian’ who is on stage as a comedian to the ‘Brian’ that’s in real life.

When I’m on stage and who I play in the movie—it’s pretty close to real—but there are aspects of oneself that when the camera goes on or the stage lights come on you, you tend to highlight or suppress. So there’s a character aspect to it, but I would say a lot of it is me just acting like me, if that makes any sense.

For this to be a real documentary, one of the things I really had to hit on was that there wasn’t a script and I wasn’t really coaching the players. I allowed the players to play within the framework of the universe that I’d built. So whomever it may be that you’re watching in the movie, they’re playing a character of themselves because the camera is on and these are the choices that they are making. What is “real” anymore? I don’t know.

Courtesy of Brian Moreno

 In terms of “reality,” how did psychedelics and cannabis play a role in your creative process and the making of this film, and how were both referenced within the movie itself?

I’m a longtime believer in what cannabis can do for the creative process. This movie, however, was a little bit more dependent on the mushrooms that were taken the final night of shooting.

The movie was a very run-and-gun type shoot where the crew had no idea what to do until I told them. The first night, there was a lot of stress in getting set up because getting [to Area 51] was so daunting and we got there so late. We then shot the entire next day with everyone sober, with the exception of a few people from whom I had to hide the liquor. I had brought weed and mushrooms with me because I knew if I could have a bonding experience with everyone on the crew, the testimonials that they would give from day one to day two would be a one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees difference.

The crew believed me that we had a movie, so that was good enough for them to loosen up. The [cannabis and mushroom-fueled] experience that we all had together…I don’t talk to some of the cast and crew anymore, but I know that’s a memory they’ll never forget. The next morning when they got interviewed, you can really see the difference in not only perspective—which I think mushrooms help with—but you can see the difference in the way they would speak about an event that was a bust.

Let me be clear, a lot of people are going to be like, “Oh, that event was a bust.” Yes, this is a failure story, but there are so many little successes within the overall failure.

I think the mushrooms and the weed were responsible for the cast and crew coming together not only as a family, but as one cohesive unit. It’s why I think everyone should trip mushrooms at least once a year—because it helps clear out the ego. If you see the difference in the testimonials from the cast and crew from day one to day two, the biggest difference is the removal of ego. When you see that transformation, it’s actually a beautiful thing, and is some of the subtext within this documentary.

Filmmaking aside, you’re also a cannabis plant-dad these days, is that accurate?

Oh totally. I’ve been attempting to grow weed ever since I was picking out little stems and seeds back in my college years. The thing about cultivation is it used to be so difficult and there used to be so many obstacles to overcome to be able to grow your own weed—and grow it well.

Now, in states that are legal—and this is one of the reasons why Amazon is pushing for legality—there’s a huge market for all of the cultivation equipment and gear. I’m big into gardening and horticulture and believe anyone who enjoys partaking [in weed] should try growing a plant or two in the summer because It’s a really cool plant to see grow. If you told me it came from aliens I would totally believe it.

Is there a correlation between the skills required to grow buds, perform comedy, and make a movie? Are any of the skills transferable?

Absolutely. With biology and growing you have to remember that sometimes there are so many factors out of your control—just like in comedy, just like in making movies. You just have to let the universe take its course. You have to be able to let go of the reins and trust. Trust your instincts, trust other people—you have to constantly learn from your mistakes.

There are only a few things I think I’m good at in this world: Telling stories, growing things, and making jokes. All of those things take a lot of thought, time, and effort, and it’s all very much like planting a seed. You water it, you let it be, and then you come back to it. You pluck a few leaves and maybe you give it some fertilizer. Then you have to leave it alone again for a little bit. You can’t obsess over it because then you’ll suffocate it. The gestation of a seed is very much like the gestation of an idea, a joke, or a movie.

Follow Brian Moreno @morenothealien and check out for more information on how to watch Dreamland: A Storming Area 51 Story beginning September 13th.

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Nevada Funds Investigation on Implementing Automatic Record Sealing for Cannabis Convictions

Earlier this month, three nonprofit organizations (the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Nevada Legal Services, and Code for America) were granted a total of $1.2 million from cannabis tax revenue from the Clark County Commission. Code for America, which received $200,000 of this amount, has been tasked with investigating how to implement automatic record sealing in the state of Nevada.

According to The Nevada Independent, Assemblymember Venicia Considine, who is also the Director of Development at Legal Aid of Southern Nevada, explained how these convictions affect people later in life. “There was a woman who couldn’t go see her son graduate on an Air Force base because she had a felony record [for cannabis],” said Considine. “There’s a lot of people that live here in Las Vegas that couldn’t get jobs, simply because they had something on their record from a decade, two decades ago, that was eligible for record sealing, but there was no real way to get it done.”

Record sealing is often a lengthy process, which includes a number of steps, as well as funds, in order to achieve success. The Nevada Independent claims that less than 10% of eligible people who seek out this process actually get their records cleared.

Bay Area-based Code for America has nine months to recount what would be necessary to speed up this process. Many hope that it could bring positive attention back to Assembly Bill 192, also called the Nevada Second Chance Act, which was passed in 2019.

AB-192’s sponsor, former-Assemblymember William McCurdy II (who is now a Clark County Commissioner), explains one of the hangups of the bill. “I wanted [AB-192] to be an automatic seal, but that was impossible, because we currently still have records that are not digitized,” McCurdy said.

AB-192 has led to many useful workshops that have helped Nevadan residents clear their past cannabis convictions, but there are still many more people in need of assistance. “Having a record, especially under the previous laws, you could have had a felony…and have never trafficked or anything,” McCurdy said.

Prior to 2016 when voters legalized medical cannabis, violators of the law received a felony charge after three misdemeanor possession charges of less than one ounce of cannabis (or if they possessed more than one ounce on the first offense). After 2016, possession of more than one ounce is a misdemeanor, and felonies are received for illegal cannabis product selling.

McCurdy mentioned that harsh cannabis laws have caused Black offenders to receive more severe convictions. This is backed up by data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union, which shares that cannabis offenses between 2001-2018 report that Black people were arrested three times the rate of white people, and in some states, up to eight times as often.

“If you were someone [of color], back in the day, that had a drug addiction, and you were found to be in possession of that drug, most of the time you were sentenced with a felony,” McCurdy said. “That was the war on drugs.”

Considine adds that the record sealing process is difficult to manage for people trying to do it for themselves, and it’s a challenge even for legal professionals. “If you served your time and you’re [eligible for record sealing], why are you still paying a penalty for it, especially when people can [use cannabis] now and no one’s getting in trouble for it?” Considine said.

Code for America was instrumental in aiding the state of Utah to clear more than 500,000 records in February 2022. It has also helped out other states such as California and Oklahoma as well. Although the organization has been successful in the past, Code for America’s Associate Program Director Alia Toran-Burrell says that every state is different, and may require a different approach. Ultimately, an updated law can only do so much. “Legislation is needed because there’s no other real mechanism to enforce a state to do this at the state level,” Burrell said.

The process of finding how best to tackle record sealing requires a lot of thought to navigate through a state’s current policy. “I think we’re focused on what is the current landscape?” Burrell said. “What exists in systems? What exists in the policy? And then we’ll work with the state to figure out if it’s even something that they want to move forward with.”

Although Nevada does not allow expungement, a new process targeting record sealing could still help a lot of people who have cannabis convictions on their records receive the freedom they deserve.

“These are folks who have served their time, they’ve done their probation, they have been a model citizen for however long it’s been since their probation ended,” Considine said. “And this is just a way for them to find a better job, move up, become a nurse, go see their kids on a [military] base, go to Canada or … visit other countries or whatever it is that is stopping them.”

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Nevada Cannabis Lounges Announced

Nevada cannabis lounges are coming. Cannabis lounges bring legalization to a new level by allowing consenting adults to openly use cannabis socially. Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board announced the news in late June. A statement reads: “Today, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) voted unanimously to approve regulations surrounding the licensing and operation of cannabis consumption […]

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Nevada Regulators Give Final Approval for Cannabis Lounges

Regulators in Nevada on Tuesday gave the final sign-off to cannabis consumption lounges, paving the way for the establishments to perhaps open up by year’s end.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board voted on a slate of regulations for the lounges, a crucial regulatory hurdle in a process that has been nearly a year in the making.

According to local news station KLAS, some of the regulations approved by the board on Tuesday “included safety protocols at lounges, training requirements for staff, and location requirements for the lounges,” such as “certain distances from locations such as schools and community facilities.”

It was last August when Nevada lawmakers approved funding that had been requested by the Cannabis Compliance Board to hire staff and provide other support in the regulation of the lounges.

The Nevada Independent reported at the time that a legislative committee “unanimously approved three items that will provide the [Cannabis Compliance Board] with funds to hire more staff, work with the state attorney general’s office to hammer out regulations, and direct cannabis revenue toward education funding.”

Tyler Klimas, the executive director of the Cannabis Compliance Board, told the legislative committee at the time that the additional funding helped put the state on track to have the lounges open “at least the first quarter, or the first half of 2022.”

“Not only to see the lounges open, but then also the first part is where we would start to realize that revenue,” he said at the time.

Tuesday’s vote apparently keeps that timetable in place, with the Las Vegas Sun reporting that the board said the “first state-sanctioned cannabis consumption lounges could potentially open before the end of the year.”

It has been a long time coming for the Cannabis Compliance Board, which noted in a press release on Tuesday that it held 15 public meetings to go over potential regulations for the consumption lounges.

The board also provided details for prospective lounge owners.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in the press release. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

Local news outlet KLAS reported that the Cannabis Compliance Board expects “40 to 45 applications for lounges attached to retail shops and 20 independent shops, 10 of which will go to social equity applicants.”

“What we are looking for is the impacts of drug policy on individuals and members of the community. We are looking at poverty level, we are looking at any past convictions of cannabis,” Klimas said, as quoted by KLAS.

Nevada legalized recreational cannabis use for adults back in 2017, but consumption has been confined to the private homes of individuals. That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from toking up in public. As The Street said, “while it is not technically legal to light up a joint while walking the Strip…the aroma in the air suggests that it’s happening quite regularly.”

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Weed-Friendly Hotel Coming to Las Vegas

Last week, Las Vegas-based commercial real estate and development company the Siegel Group announced that it had completed the sale of the Artisan Hotel Boutique to Pro Hospitality Group for $11.9 million.

Alex Rizk, the owner of Phoenix-based Pro Hospitality Group, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he is planning a $3 million renovation of the 64-room hotel on Sahara Boulevard at Interstate 15 near the Las Vegas Strip. He said that when the regulations are in place at the state and local level, he will make the Artisan a “cannabis-friendly” destination for tourists to the city.

“This is a lifestyle, boutique hotel,” Rizk said.

The Siegel Group acquired the Artisan Hotel in 2009, “transforming the location into one of the most well-known and visited boutique hotels in Las Vegas,” the company said in a statement about the sale.

“The hotel gained a loyal following among locals, tourists, and boutique enthusiasts who were drawn to the location’s eclectic design and hip, intimate atmosphere,” the company wrote. “The unique hotel contained a bar-lounge with a popular after-hours scene, a restaurant, wedding chapel, and one of the few topless pools in town.”

Cannabis Consumption Lounges Authorized Last Year

Last year, Nevada lawmakers passed legislation that gave the state Cannabis Compliance Board the authority to regulate lounges that allow the onsite consumption of weed products. The board is currently in the process of drafting regulations and local governments will have the authority to enact tighter measures. Officials from Clark County, home to Las Vegas, announced in January that they were keeping track of efforts to regulate cannabis consumption lounges at the state level.

Under the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational pot in Nevada, the consumption of cannabis products was only legally permitted in private residences. The legalization of regulated cannabis consumption lounges was intended to give visitors a place to enjoy the benefits of the state’s cannabis reform.

As a state senator in 2017, Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom led the first effort in the state legislature to legalize cannabis consumption lounges. Last year, he characterized lounges as a “game changer” for the state’s hospitality businesses.

“Consumption lounges are so perfect for our tourism industry,” Segerblom told the Review-Journal. “The sooner we get out there, the more we’ll be looked upon as a marijuana-friendly city and state.”

New Owner Has Cannabis-Friendly Hotel in Phoenix

Pro Hospitality Group already operates a cannabis-friendly hotel, the Clarendon Hotel and Spa, in its home city of Phoenix, Arizona. The hotel’s website informs potential guests that the property features “cannabis-friendly rooms and amenities” that allow “vaping, dabbing, flower, etc.” The Clarendon also boasts a cannabis consumption lounge that is open to both hotel guests and the general public.

“Since we are currently a split-use hotel with cannabis and non-smoking rooms, we do ask that any smoking take place in your cannabis-friendly room and not in the public areas of the hotel,” the website notes. “Vapes and smokeless products can be used in outdoor public areas, not including the restaurant.”

The Clarendon also notes that it is “working on a cannabis shuttle service to take hotel guests from the hotel to a local dispensary and back again,” according to the website.

The property opened its first cannabis-friendly rooms in July, followed by the rest of the west wing of the hotel for a total of 16 guest rooms that welcome the consumption of cannabis products. The Clarendon is also accepting reservations for a limited number of rooms on the cannabis-friendly lodging booking site Bud and Breakfast.

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Are Cannabis Sales Slipping?

Are cannabis sales across North America slipping? There is a prevailing theory that the government’s COVID lockdowns led to increased cannabis use. Some expect lower sales now that life is more or less returning to normal. People are going back to work, back outside, meeting their friends. Yet, the causal connection isn’t so evident. After […]

The post Are Cannabis Sales Slipping? appeared first on Cannabis News, Lifestyle – Headlines, Videos & Cooking.

Indictment Charges Russian Oligarch with Plot to Bribe and Obtain Cannabis License in Nevada

A whirlwind of conspiracy stretching across several states indicates a plot to alter elections and illegally obtain cannabis licenses in Nevada and other locations.

According to an indictment, which was unsealed for the public by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York on March 14, a Russian oligarch colluded with American officials to allegedly score a cannabis license illegally in Nevada. According to federal prosecutors, the actions amount to illegal political campaign contributions.

Andrey Muraviev—who happens to be a Russian oligarch—was charged with violating federal campaign finance laws in 2018. Muraviev is accused of illegally funneling donations to former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt—with the perk of winning an adult-use cannabis business license in Nevada. Laxalt has been accused of bribery before.

The news arrives at a time when businesses of all types are cutting ties with Russian oligarchs, albeit for a different reason, as the Ukraine conflict brews up.

Muraviev is charged with conspiring with Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-born Andrey Kukushkin and Igor Fruman and others—all of whom were convicted at trial or have pleaded guilty to related crimes. 

The five are charged with concocting a plot to get $1 million from Muraviev, and then give donations to political campaigns to back-scratch political candidates who could in turn pull strings to help Muraviev and co-conspirators obtain licenses. 

Miami Herald reports that the plot involved securing cannabis licenses in several states, but it ultimately fizzled out after Parnas and Fruman and two other associates failed to submit the required paperwork on time to obtain licenses in Nevada and elsewhere.

Muraviev gained wealth as the CEO of a Russian cement company and through his holdings in the Russian online payment company QIWI. He had already invested in several California-based cannabis operations before he connected with Parnas and Fruman.

Muraviev is believed to be in Russia and remains at large, prosecutors said.

Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the unsealing in a press release.

“As alleged, Andrey Muraviev, a Russian national, attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said. “He attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests. The Southern District of New York is committed to rooting out efforts by foreigners to interfere with our elections.”

The actions show that federal prosecutors will not tolerate illegal donations that are intended to alter elections.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll agreed, saying “as alleged, Muraviev, a Russian foreign national, made illegal political contributions and conspired with Parnas, Kukushkin and Fruman to obscure their true source. The money Muraviev injected into our political system, as alleged, was directed to politicians with views favorable to his business interests and those of his co-conspirators. As today’s action demonstrates, we will continue to aggressively pursue all those who seek to illegally affect our nation’s elections.”

The Nevada Independent reports that Parnas was found guilty last October on six counts related to funneling money into U.S. campaigns, and Laxalt testified at the trial, saying Parnas promised to hold a fundraiser that never took place. 

Fruman pleaded guilty to illegal foreign campaign contributions in September last year.

The post Indictment Charges Russian Oligarch with Plot to Bribe and Obtain Cannabis License in Nevada appeared first on High Times.