After legalization, one of the biggest issues that seems to keep cropping up is social use of cannabis. Every state that has legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes thus far has made it an illegal act for anyone to smoke or otherwise consume cannabis out in the open – similar to open container laws for alcohol.
So far, no state has addressed the issue of where visitors to the state should go when it comes time to consume their first bag of legal bud – although some solutions have been found through creative means such as Colorado’s “Bud and Breakfast” (a 420-friendly B&B) and Denver’s Social Use initiative that passed in the November election.
Alaska came close to confronting the issue by allowing dispensaries to apply for an additional license that would allow them to have a separate area in their stores for social cannabis use – but that idea was shot down in the end and won’t be a part of their plans going forward, at least not for now.
One Nevada lawmaker had promised residents a bill that aimed to allow social use in public places like lounges, bars, coffee shops and special events like fairs and concerts – and Segerblom delivered this week when he introduced Senate Bill 236, which will do all of that. The bill would give individual counties and cities the option to license businesses to allow cannabis consumption on site – with a few provisions, of course.
The bill, if passed, would allow local governments to regulate and license businesses and events that would allow cannabis consumption – all such businesses would be required to only allow adults 21 years of age or older on the premises, so places and events that allowed cannabis would be off limits to those who are underage. They would also have to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, daycare centers, churches (same as all cannabis businesses), and it would require that smoking not be visible to the public.
However, it absolutely provides the safe haven that those who live in apartments, federal housing or who are visiting and have no place to legally use cannabis are looking for, which is the issue that this bill is really trying to solve. Of course, this bill is not going to be well received by all, as some lawmakers think that allowing public consumption is “too much, too soon” – but in reality it will save a lot of headaches down the road to address it sooner rather than later.
“The solution again is to have a lounge. Have a consumption location. A place where you can have people go and participate and enjoy cannabis,” said Gardiner, who is preparing for educational tours in the future to attract tourists.
Since legalization, one of the uphill battles that still remains for activists is to ensure that cannabis is treated fairly in comparison to other legal substances like alcohol and tobacco – especially when it comes to having a place outside your private residence to consume. We don’t require alcohol use be kept to your home or backyard – so why should we treat cannabis that way?
Senate Bill 236 is definitely progressive – and if passed it would be the first state law on the books to address public consumption of cannabis in a state where it is legal. With legal sales expected to happen as soon as July in Nevada, it is only a matter of time before tourists and locals alike are finding themselves without a place to toke up without still breaking the law – even after legalization.