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The Street
The Street
Daniel Kline

Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip Have a Surprising Pot Problem

If bars didn't exist, but liquor stores were plentiful, and open-container laws were widely enforced because consuming alcohol was only legal in private residences, you can see the conundrum that causes. A tourist in a city could buy liquor, but the only place they could consume it would be a private home -- something they don't have access to -- so, instead, they would drink clandestinely in alleys, parking lots, and their hotel rooms.

Alcohol, of course, is easier to hide than smokeable forms of marijuana, but the scenario laid out above for booze is essentially what's playing out in Las Vegas right now when it comes to cannabis consumption. You can buy marijuana easily and legally but you can't actually smoke it.

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That's a problem the city hopes to address with cannabis consumption lounges. Rules have been passed for these, but none have actually opened. A cannabis lounge would essentially be a bar where you can smoke marijuana (but not drink alcohol). Planet 13 (PLNHF) , Las Vegas' largest dispensary, plans to open one on its off-Strip property, but many questions about the future of Las Vegas and cannabis consumption remain.

One major project, Las Vegas' first cannabis-friendly hotel, has a hit a major roadblock and its intended method of operating may not be legal.

Planet 13 plans to open a consumption lounge.

Image source: Planet 13

Cannabis Consumption and the Las Vegas Strip  

Major casino operators like Caesars Entertainment (CZR), MGM Resorts International (MGM), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) will not offer cannabis consumption lounges, In fact, no Las Vegas casino operator would consider doing any business in the cannabis space because the product remains illegal on a federal level.

Under the rules adopted by Nevada for consumption lounges, no lounge may open within 1,500 feet of a casino. That creates a problem for The Lexi, an off-Strip boutique hotel which markets itself as "Las Vegas’ first cannabis-inclusive property,"

The hotel was originally planning on having a consumption lounge on property, but can't do that because Palace Station Casino sits less than 1,500 feet from the Lexi. Now, the hotel, which opens June 2, still plans to offer cannabis smoking in some of its hotel rooms, according to its FAQ page. 

"Only those staying in designated guest rooms on the fourth floor. These accommodations are outfitted with state-of-the-art RestorAir filtration system in each room, which employs Advanced Oxidation Cell (AOC) technology. The Lexi operates in accordance with all local and state laws," the company shared,

The problem, and it's a big one, is that smoking in a hotel room -- even one equipped with special filtration -- is likely not legal.

Can You Smoke Cannabis In a Las Vegas Hotel?

If the Lexi allows people to smoke cannabis in its rooms, it would be arguing that those rooms are a private residence for the period of a guest's stay. Currently, it's only legal to smoke marijuana products in a private home. 

“I think most people would argue that hotel rooms are public places that are open for business for the public to rent those rooms,” Amanda Connor, an attorney with Connor & Connor, a Nevada firm specializing in cannabis law, told KLAS-TV.

The hotel's operators sent a statement to the news channel that reads in part, “The Lexi operates in accordance with all local and state laws. No cannabis will be sold on the property, no cannabis can be legally delivered to the property, and smoking in common areas is prohibited by law.”

Whether it's legal to do what the hotel plans could be considered a "grey area," according to Connor.

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