Washoe County commissioners vote to allow cannabis consumption lounges
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Washoe County Board of Commissioners moved in a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, Oct. 11, to begin initiating amendments to code regarding cannabis lounges in unincorporated Washoe County, which includes Incline Village and Crystal Bay.
The amendments may include establishment of different definitions, standards, limitations, and permitting requirements related to the establishments, along with fees associated and resolution of discrepancies that may arise within existing Washoe County code chapter as a result of the new code language.
Commissoner Alexis Hill, who represents the IV/CB area, voted in favor, while fellow commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Jeanne Herman voted in opposition.
There will be a Citizen Advisory Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, via Zoom for community members to provide their input prior to the creation of the amendments.
Washoe County Community Services Department Planning Manager Chadwick Geisinger was available for questions prior to the vote at the commissioners meeting, where he explained that zoning aspects of the consumption lounges are open to local government, but are capped at the number of retail dispensaries in the area. There is currently only one dispensary in Incline Village.
There are two types of consumption lounges authorized. The first must be attached to, or on the same parcel of, an existing dispensary. The second would be considered an independent consumption lounge, which cannot be affiliated with an existing retail dispensary.
“Independent [location] depends on site selection of applicants and where they are allowed by zoning,” said Geisinger. “Right now, all cannabis uses are limited to commercial and industrial zones, and have been since the inception of the original ordinances.”
This means there could be one independent cannabis lounge and one attached to the existing dispensary, Nuleaf, in Incline Village.
Chief Creative Officer Andreas Neumann of Jushi, the parent company of Nuleaf Dispensaries, said there is a consumption lounge with dispensary on their radar.
“We are definitely considering that,” said Neumann. “We have a whole task force … So we are really looking into it, but we want to do it good. We want to do a successful concept and then take that concept and bring it to other place and states and locations right. It has to add value to somebody’s entertainment.”
Neumann explained that in the cannabis world, there are another two types of cannabis lounges: the retail concept and the hospitality concept. One includes couches and a dark room with nothing happening in it, and the other is a next level venue, with or without cannabis.
“It has to be amazing,” said Neumann. “It has to be on a level of, ‘Oh I really want to hangout here.’ There’s cool people and it’s a great location … everything is hand curated, so this is why I would want to go there. Smoking weed or not smoking weed, fine. So if you want to have a consumption lounge, you have to think about that, and you have think about offering an experience which really adds value.”
Neumann compared the opening of a lounge to the opening of a bar or a cafe, and with the right people putting the place together, it can be something just as enjoyable and safe as any other facility. There are still some limitations that are keeping a consumption lounge from having things like food and beverages, but Neumann is confident they will come in time.
“We have to kind of wait for some of those things to come together and then execute with good people who actually know hospitality as well,” said Neumann. “We are not going to do this without a partner who has credibility in the hospitality business.”
The approval of the lounges in Washoe County is a change from the recent South Lake Tahoe City Council decision to not allow on-site cannabis consumption.
To join the CAB meeting on Monday, Nov. 7, visit https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82231865379?pwd=TTF2M3FaSnR0bE9jQVA2Q1lJb2hqUT09
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