With recreational marijuana on the horizon, lawmakers in Las Vegas and Clark County have been busy crafting rules for where pot shops are located in the city. Las Vegas sees over 40 million visitors each year, generating over $100 billion in combined economic activity, in addition to the 1.95 million residents in the Las Vegas metro area.
Known for sprawling, uniquely designed casinos, massive choreographed water fountains, otherworldly performances and shows, and a variety of clubs, restaurants, and venues known and revered across the world, Las Vegas pot shops would assumably like to be as close to any visitor destination hot spot as possible; however, zoning requirements, federal gambling laws, and various local restrictions may prevent the Las Vegas Strip from having recreational pot shops. Here is what we know:
Las Vegas County Vs Clark County Rules
The odd thing about the Las Vegas Strip is the name suggests, incorrectly, the strip of casinos, convention centers, bars, clubs, and other attractions is in the city of Las Vegas. The reality is, a majority of the Las Vegas strip is located in Clark County, not Las Vegas. As a result, the question of how many or where will the pot shops on the Las Vegas strip be, therefore, requires some insight into the local laws and city ordinances of both the city of Las Vegas and Clark County, Nevada.
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, pot shops could be expected to blend right into the landscape of the Strip. However, if you have been to Las Vegas, despite street-level marketing of mostly nude calling cards for strip club specials and/ or a private session with a model of your choosing, do you distinctly recall a strip club existing ON the Las Vegas Strip?
It is okay if you have never been and, if you have been, there no pressure to remember anything about your trip. Las Vegas is known for drinking, smoking, gambling, and other earthly social pleasures, after all. The answer, put simply, is no. No strip clubs or brothels exist on the main strip; they landed in the peripheral – just a few city blocks from the Las Vegas strip. The reason: City regulations in both Las Vegas and Clark County.
The reason: City regulations in both Las Vegas and Clark County.
CNN reports where Las Vegas and Clark County meet, on the Northern end of the strip, where the leering Stratosphere and other, lesser traveled casinos on the Las Vegas strip exist, has more relaxed rules when it comes to where marijuana dispensaries can be located than Clark County, where most of the shops, shows, restaurants, nightclubs, and top casinos on the Strip are located. This is promising for recreational dispensaries closer to Downtown Las Vegas and Fremont St. but does little to support the canna-friendly visitor traffic on the main Las Vegas Strip.
Gambling Rules, Federal Law, and Toking in Sin City
Another obvious (not so obvious) reason pot shops on Las Vegas Strip are unlikely to exist once the recreational program starts (expected July 1st, 2017): marijuana use, possession, and sales remain federally illegal. While Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have each implemented a legal market for marijuana sales, gambling in those states is much less a reason for tourism than in Las Vegas. This positions the Las Vegas Strip in high visibility with federal gambling authorities, requiring strict regulation and policy until (i.e – if) the federal laws are revised.
This creates a unique challenge for Las Vegas marijuana dispensaries, as the federal prohibition has forced Clark County to adopt city regulations banning the sales of marijuana or its products anywhere near a casino. As a result, the 10+ medical marijuana dispensaries located in Clark County are located several city blocks from the strip, similar to the strip club example described above.
In the May 2017 meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission, the chairman of the Green Panel, a group recommending marijuana policy across Nevada’s gambling centers, issued the following policy to the Clark County Commission:
“A priority is the prohibition of delivery and consumption of marijuana within the Las Vegas Boulevard Gaming Corridor, H1 Zones, and on the premises of any restricted or non-restricted gaming licensee to comply with the Nevada Gaming Commission and Board’s prohibition of any consumption and possession of marijuana on gaming properties.”
Simply stated, this would prevent the pot shops from engaging in marijuana sales anywhere on the Las Vegas Strip, further penalize consumption or use of marijuana within or around casinos, and create confusion for visitors regarding where they can legally use marijuana if not in their hotel room, at the resort, in the casino, on the strip, or in public.
As medical marijuana dispensaries were prioritized in Nevada to make the transition into recreational sales first, pot shops on the northern end of the strip, near Stratosphere and towards downtown Las Vegas, may be the best bet when searching the Strip for a bit of legal weed during your visit.