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Normally, businesses along the Las Vegas Boulevard are required to have a neon sign. Why? The city’s Scenic Byway Plan requires it as part of a larger effort to preserve the road’s iconic history — for many years, it has been a brightly lit desert landmark. Under the current rules, any operating business on the […]
Normally, businesses along the Las Vegas Boulevard are required to have a neon sign. Why? The city’s Scenic Byway Plan requires it as part of a larger effort to preserve the road’s iconic history — for many years, it has been a brightly lit desert landmark. Under the current rules, any operating business on the boulevard needs to have a sign with at least 75% neon. However, there is now one exception to this rule: the medical marijuana dispensaries that are quickly spreading throughout the region.
A meeting of the Downtown Design and Review Committee this past week decided on the exemption, saying that it will be available in the form of a waiver for any business selling medical pot. This was due to the “unique character of the use” of medical marijuana.
This is because, unlike the majority of Las Vegas businesses, medical marijuana dispensaries need to maintain an appearance that is both medical and professional in nature. Nevada state law says that a dispensary’s sign has to be internally illuminated, and neon is prohibited. This helps to distinguish medical usage marijuana shops from their recreation-based open-shop cousins in Colorado and Washington.
As of 2009, the Las Vegas Scenic Byway has been a National Scenic Byway thanks to the large number of neon signs located there. Since then, traffic along this route has surged. Because of its designation, the city can now apply for federal grants to help pay for neon signs which help to preserve the street’s iconic aesthetic.
While some people might question the designation, neon signs have been a part of the Las Vegas scene since the 1930s. Many former signs have been iconic enough to show up in dozens of Hollywood movies, and the majority of signs are custom made for the businesses they represent. The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, in fact, displays about 150 retired signs as art pieces. Neon lights are not very energy efficient, using approximately 75% more electricity than LED. Though they will continue to be an iconic part of Las Vegas, many other stores throughout the country are replacing them with high-brightness LEDs.
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