Recreational marijuana legalization is more or less an unstoppable force at this point. More Americans support the cause than ever before, and state governments are jumping on board as well. But once we've accomplished recreational legalization, what's the next step for marijuana movement? Well, it could be cannabis lounges.
HuffPost recently ran a story about the new battle to create marijuana lounges in states with legalized recreational cannabis. While purchasing marijuana may be legal, it's still illegal to smoke or consume those products in public spaces. But this often causes problems, particularly for tourists who may be barred from using the products they came to a legal state specifically to use.
Las Vegas, in particular, is wrestling with the problem. The city attracts more than 40 million tourists every year, and now that marijuana is legal in Nevada, many of those people will want to purchase cannabis before or after hitting the casinos. But the only place in Nevada where it's legal to smoke marijuana is in a private residence.
The proposed solution to this issue is marijuana lounges, designated public places where people can use marijuana freely. The ballot initiatives in Maine and California that legalized recreational cannabis both allowed cities and counties to create these types of lounges, and cities in Colorado have begun experimenting with them as well.
There are, however, several issues with implementing these lounges. One revolves around jurisdiction. It's unclear in many legalized states who has the authority to create them. Cobb county (where Las Vegas is located) officials have said that only the state government is allowed to license and regulate the lounges, meanwhile the Nevada legislature has said that should be the duty of the city governments.
The other issue is drugged driving. Some of have argued that creating lounges in public spaces will lead to people using marijuana and then driving home afterwards, leading to more accidents. Those accidents could then spark a federal crackdown in legal states.
It looks like Denver will end up becoming the big experiment for marijuana lounges. Last year the city approved a law that would designate certain spaces as available for marijuana users. Denver officials are still going through applications, but it appears there will be lounges set up at some point in 2018.
Perfecting how marijuana lounges should be implemented may be the next major step for the marijuana movement. Unless everyone's content just toking up in their basement.