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Las Vegas Embraces Cannabis Hospitality with Consumption Lounges

In a groundbreaking move, Nevada has officially issued the first license for a recreational cannabis consumption lounge, marking a significant milestone in the state’s rapidly evolving cannabis industry. The Cannabis Compliance Board recently announced that the inaugural license was awarded to Smoke and Mirrors, a lounge owned by Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, the largest independently owned cannabis business in Nevada. This historic event comes nearly three years after the Nevada Legislature approved on-site consumption of cannabis products at dispensaries and standalone lounges, and it signals the beginning of a new era in adult entertainment and hospitality.

Smoke and Mirrors, situated adjacent to the Thrive Cannabis Marketplace near the iconic Las Vegas Strip, passed its final inspection by Cannabis Compliance Board agents earlier this week, green-lighting its official licensing. The lounge is set to welcome its first guests in late February 2024, offering a sophisticated and immersive experience for cannabis enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

How Did We Get Here?

The journey to this momentous occasion has been lengthy and complex, with industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and state regulators working hand in hand to create a well-regulated and thriving cannabis consumption lounge scene. In 2021, lawmakers paved the way for business owners to apply for on-site consumption lounge licenses, a move that was heavily advocated for by the cannabis industry. Proponents of the lounges emphasized their potential for economic development and their appeal to the millions of tourists who flock to Las Vegas each year, seeking unique and exciting experiences.

However, the road to opening these lounges was not without its challenges. The development of consumption lounges faced numerous obstacles, including regulatory hurdles, building delays, and the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Entrepreneurs and consultants, such as Christopher LaPorte and Scot Rutledge of Reset, worked tirelessly with government agencies to create a comprehensive regulatory framework that would ensure the safe and responsible operation of these establishments.

One of the most significant hurdles was overcoming the stereotypes associated with cannabis consumers and effectively communicating the vision of these lounges to regulators. Strict regulations surrounding air quality and expensive HVAC system requirements further delayed the launch of these venues. However, in June 2023, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board approved more lenient air-ventilation standards, clearing the way for the opening of Smoke and Mirrors and the anticipated launch of around 20 other consumption lounges soon.

Smoke and Mirrors

With a capacity of approximately 60 people, Smoke and Mirrors aims to provide a unique and upscale experience for its patrons, according to MJBizDaily. The lounge boasts a carefully curated selection of premium cannabis strains, innovative infused mocktails, and a music-discovery space that showcases sounds spanning from the 60s to contemporary times. By focusing on cannabis mixology, Smoke and Mirrors is broadening the scope of consumption options, catering to both novice and experienced consumers alike.

Guests at Smoke and Mirrors can indulge in a variety of products, including dabs, pre-rolls, infused pre-rolls, and eighths of flower, all available at various price points. The lounge’s elaborate mocktail menu, inspired by classic cocktails such as margaritas, daiquiris, and palomas, offers patrons the opportunity to infuse their drinks with either 2.5 or 5 milligrams of THC. So the lounge can maintain a safe and controlled environment, visitors are not permitted to bring in outside cannabis products or smoking accessories and cannot leave the premises with products purchased at the lounge.

More Lounges in Las Vegas

As more consumption lounges gear up to open their doors, Las Vegas is positioning itself to become the epicenter of cannabis tourism. Major industry players, such as Planet 13, are planning to unveil their own consumption spaces, with Planet 13’s expansive 3,000-square-foot “Dazed” lounge set to debut before April 20, 2024. These lounges will not only provide a legal and safe space for cannabis consumption but also contribute to the city’s economy and job market, creating new opportunities for employment and revenue generation.

The successful launch of Smoke and Mirrors and the impending opening of additional lounges can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of industry leaders, consultants, and state regulators. Nevada’s approach to creating a regulatory framework for consumption lounges, while conservative, has been meticulous and all-encompassing. The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board has worked closely with entrepreneurs to ensure that the lounges operate safely and responsibly, prioritizing customer education, air quality, and responsible consumption practices.

Las Vegas Leads the Way

As Las Vegas continues to embrace cannabis consumption lounges, it is setting a new standard for the integration of cannabis into the adult entertainment and tourism industries. The city’s approach to regulating and licensing these establishments may serve as a model for other states and cities looking to introduce similar concepts, showcasing the potential for a harmonious coexistence between the cannabis industry and the hospitality sector.

The opening of Smoke and Mirrors and the anticipated launch of numerous other consumption lounges in Las Vegas mark a significant step forward in the normalization and destigmatization of cannabis use. By providing a safe, legal, and sophisticated environment for consumption, these lounges are challenging outdated stereotypes and showcasing the diverse faces of cannabis consumers, from curious tourists to discerning locals.

Moreover, consumption lounges like Smoke and Mirrors are not just venues for cannabis consumption; they are platforms for artistic expression and cultural enrichment. By serving as a hub for artists and musicians to showcase their work, these establishments are creating immersive experiences that go beyond the traditional notion of a cannabis lounge.

“It’s more than a venue, it’s a platform for the cannabis industry as a whole, where tourists and locals alike can be a part of a new chapter in the evolution of hospitality,” said Chris LaPorte, managing partner of RESET, a Las Vegas-based cannabis hospitality company.

The opening of Smoke and Mirrors opens a new feature in Las Vegas’ storied history of adult entertainment and hospitality. As the city continues to evolve and embrace new ideas, it is clear that cannabis consumption lounges will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of tourism and leisure in the city. With its forward-thinking approach and willingness to innovate, Las Vegas is once again proving that it is a city that knows how to stay ahead of the curve and deliver unforgettable experiences to its visitors.

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