Will Nevada Be the State That Leads the Way on Public Pot Consumption?

If you want to bet on public pot, here's the place people go to place bets.

Nevada has long prided itself on, or at least profited from, being a sin-based economy. Within certain bounds, both gambling and prostitution are legal business endeavors within the Silver State. And whether or not you view smoking weed in public to be a sin, somebody you know does, and those people may soon be traveling to Nevada to indulge in that cannabistic transgression—if all goes well within Nevada’s state senate and beyond, that is.

A Democratic Nevada State Senator from Las Vegas with the name Tick Segerblom has introduced a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to determine if marijuana use is permitted in that jurisdiction’s public businesses, places like bars, hotels, restaurants, and concert venues. According to Segerblom, “The sky is the limit.”

The Reno Gazette-Journal has a line on just how high that sky might be:

A public place is anywhere that anyone is allowed, including those under the age of 21.
Businesses could apply for a permit effective for just a few hours, or a permit that would be permanent. City governments would issue permits within incorporated areas, and county boards of commissioners would issue permits for unincorporated areas.
"You could take a fancy restaurant. It could be weddings, it could be hotels, it could be a cannabis horse and buggy thing. You have no idea how many crazy ideas people have. There could be a theme park," Segerblom said.

As appealing as these crazy theme-park ideas might be, the notion of nug nuttiness playing out on the village pathways of South Portland, Maine, seems to have put the fear of openly unseemly behavior into city councilors. The state’s electorate voted by a teeny margin to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis this past November, and South Portland’s guiding lights recently considered the effects of establishing public smoke spots within the town’s business district.

The Portland Press-Herald distilled what is at stake for local merchants:

Councilor Eben Rose suggested that social clubs should be allowed in neighborhoods and village settings to discourage driving and be promoted widely to attract passengers from cruise ships that land in Portland.
“We will be able to get a piece of the pie if we allow social clubs to take root here,” Rose said. “If you had (one) near Scratch Bakery, sales would probably go up.”

However, Mayor Patti Smith (no relation) and a gentleman identified as Claude Morgan recalled witnessing marijuana cafes during visits to Amsterdam, capital city of the Netherlands. That specter of baked customers lounging openly elevated in the European manner choked off further exploration of public consumption in South Portland.

Despite acknowledging the revenue to be harvested from hefty licensing and application fees for public-consumption permits, the city councilors turned their attention to more-basic regulations.

Colorado, as it has been for the past half century, in weed time, is still inching toward clearing a path to a public place where a sociable stoner might take a seat and savor a toke. This time, apparent progress was made in the State Senate, where a bill expressly permitting bring-your-own pot clubs passed 25 to 10. But, reportedly, Gov. John Hickenlooper has indicated that he will veto any public pot proposal that does not ban indoor smoking. And with outdoor smoking, of course, the issue of wafting dank stank comes into play and must be contained; so a Hickenlooper kibosh on indoor consumption might be a kibosh on public consumption altogether.

So there is time yet for Colorado and Maine’s losses to become Nevada’s winnings. For as long as good people perceive the stink of marijuana as being a bad thing, like the smell of sin, they’ll be eager to take a cheap chartered flight to Nevada and wallow in it.