Sandoval concerned about public marijuana lounges, cafes

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Cliff Owen / AP

In this Feb. 20, 2016, file photo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval participates in the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington.

Published Wed, Sep 13, 2017 (1:08 p.m.)

Updated Wed, Sep 13, 2017 (5:07 p.m.)

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday that he does not agree with a new opinion by the state’s legislative council bureau saying nothing in state law bans local governments from opening marijuana consumption lounges and consuming the plant at special one-off events.

“I do not agree with the LCB opinion and believe that statutory authority is necessary to establish local marijuana smoking shops,” Sandoval said Tuesday. “I am concerned with these establishments popping up piecemeal throughout the state with differing rules and regulatory structure.”

Sandoval also cited a failed bill proposed during the 2017 Nevada State Legislature that would have explicitly allowed for such lounges to be regulated by local municipalities. He questioned Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom’s need to propose the bill back in April if lounges were already permitted by the state.

“This basically says local governments can license these businesses if they want to,” Segerblom said Monday.

Sandoval called on Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office to advise the Nevada Department of Taxation on statutorily preventing such lounges.

Laxalt’s spokewoman Monica Moazez referred all questions to the Nevada Department of Taxation, whose did not respond to multiple calls and emails for comment this week.

Ballot Question 2 in last November’s election allows for the possession and consumption of up to one ounce of marijuana flower or up to one-eighth the equivalent of THC concentrates and edibles by adults in Nevada. But language in the law is vague on consumption regulations outside of a private residence.

Sandoval, a Republican former federal judge, initially opposed legalization of recreational marijuana voters approved last November but said he accepted the will of the people and pushed an early-sale program that began in July instead of waiting six months later as scheduled to expedite collection of revenue from state pot taxes.

Sandoval said he’s worried legalization of pot lounges might invite more federal scrutiny of Nevada’s pot sales. He said he has not read the bureau’s opinion, but he would like the attorney general’s office to weigh in on the matter. He said an opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau “doesn’t have any precedential value.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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