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April 24, 2014

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Clark, Washoe counties taking steps to allow medical marijuana dispensaries under new state law

CARSON CITY – Lyon County, which licenses houses of prostitution, doesn’t plan to allow any medical marijuana dispensaries.

But Clark and Washoe counties – where prostitution is illegal – are drawing up some ordinances to permit the cultivation, production, inspection of medical marijuana and dispensaries for its sale.

Jacqueline Holloway, director of business licenses in Clark County, on Monday told the Advisory Committee on the Administration of Justice the proposed plan was to license medical marijuana facilities the same as casinos and bars.

There will be regulations to protect the health and safety of the public, she said.

Nevada’s medical marijuana law goes into effect April 1. The state Division of Public and Behavioral Health will accept applications for 10 days and then have 90 days to decide whether to issue the license. Applicants must comply with local ordinances.

Dagny Stapleton, deputy director of the Nevada Association of Counties, told the committee some counties would discuss the issue Feb. 6. Many of the counties have not made a decision whether to permit medical marijuana businesses locally.

Stapleton said Lyon County has decided to prohibit local operations.

A copy of the proposed Lyon County ordinance says medical marijuana establishments will not be allowed. It said, “cities and counties in other states that have permitted the dispensaries and related facilities have witnessed an increase in crime, such as burglaries, robberies and sale of illegal drugs in the areas immediately surrounding these facilities.”

But it also says it will not interfere with people who have doctor’s prescriptions to use the drug.

Marla McDade Williams, deputy administrator of the state division, said the law permits 40 dispensaries in Clark County and splits up the number between the political subdivisions.

The question was posed if a city or local subdivision would prohibit the marijuana business, would Clark County still receive the full allocation. Williams said Clark County would retain the 40 dispensaries and could decide where to place them.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, sponsor of the marijuana law and chairman of the justice commission, praised Williams for developing the regulations and added that any county or city could “opt out” of having the businesses in their locale.

Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, raised the only objection, saying he was “increasingly pessimistic” the law would work. He said local governments faced problems in dealing with the state law.

He said he knew the U.S. Department of Justice would not enforce federal law prohibiting marijuana in states where it is legal. But he added it was still the law.

Williams said the state agency had developed a rating system on whom to license for dispensaries. And she said the regulations would require a person who gets a license to put it into effect within 180 days.

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