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Nevada Rules Casinos Must Eject Players Too Stoned to Gamble

Although recreational marijuana is fully legal in Nevada, the Gaming Commission is taking a strict stance on its cannabis policies.

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Photo via Jim G

Tourists overindulging in some of Nevada's newly legal recreational reefer may find themselves getting kicked out of local casinos, thanks to new regulations passed by the state's gambling board. Last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved an amendment that will require casinos to prevent customers who are visibly impaired by cannabis or other drugs from continuing to play, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The commission's current regulations prohibit casinos from allowing “persons who are visibly intoxicated” to continue gambling or drinking. The new amendment expands this classification of intoxicated users to include anyone who is visibly impaired by cannabis or other drugs, not just alcohol. As a result of this new rule, casinos may require additional workforce training to help their floor staff identify signs that a customer may be too stoned to gamble.

"It's not smart to allow impaired people to gamble," Chairman Tony Alamo said to local Fox affiliate KVVU. "Previously, we used the words 'intoxication,' and intoxication sometimes gives the feeling of just alcohol... We want to make it crystal-clear across the board under all regulations that 'impairment' is not just alcohol; it's being impaired by drugs."

Although these alcohol regulations have been in effect for years, it’s been rare for the commission to actually take disciplinary action against casinos for allowing intoxicated patrons to gamble. In one notable case, the commission fined one of its licensees $25,000 after a patron complained about a drunk person who was allowed to continue playing, and casino and resort staff received additional training on “responsible gaming awareness and alcohol management.”

Even though recreational cannabis use and sales are now fully legal in Nevada, the gaming commission and other agencies are still basing their policies around federal law, which continues to prohibit the drug. Shortly after the state legalized recreational weed, gaming regulators warned casino staff to keep a watchful eye on stoned gamblers. Last month, the Gaming Policy Committee of the Nevada Governor's Office officially recommended that all cannabis sales and use should be prohibited within the state's casinos.

In addition to state laws, casinos are also required to follow all federal laws in order to keep their gaming licenses, so officials have decided to play it safe until federal restrictions on cannabis are finally lifted. The Gaming Commission has even taken a stance against allowing medical cannabis to be used on casino grounds, again due to fears of having their licenses revoked by the feds.

Tourists flocking to Nevada to check out the booming recreational cannabis market have been finding it difficult to locate a place to get high. In addition to casinos, the majority of hotels prohibit customers from smoking weed, and public use of the plant also remains illegal. State legislators are working towards the creation of cannabis lounges where tourists can legally sample the state's weedy wares, but Gov. Brian Sandoval has advocated against the clubs, again citing fears of federal intervention.