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December 20, 2014

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Las Vegas council agrees to initial medical marijuana rules

The complexity of regulating medical marijuana tongue-tied Las Vegas lawmakers as they slogged through 27 pages of proposed rules today.

When the City Council finished, this is what they did:

• They approved language in the law’s preamble that correlated medical marijuana dispensaries with “violent crime robberies, burglaries, traffic, noise, drug and gang activity, organized crime and … money laundering and firearms violations.” Lois Tarkanian, Stavros Anthony, Steve Ross and Mayor Carolyn Goodman agreed with that language.

• Limited medical pot dispensaries to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. An attempt to extend those hours was voted down.

• Agreed to allow medical pot deliveries to the homes of those with Nevada medical marijuana card holders.

• Agreed that medical pot can be obtained in Nevada but outside of Las Vegas if the city’s business licensing chief determines there’s a shortage in Las Vegas.

• Voted to ban misleading, deceptive or false advertising.

• Voted to review medical pot licenses after the two years.

• Voted to lower required surety bonds from $500,000 to $250,000.

City staff said they will be holding public workshops in the next few weeks and that the city will likely begin accepting applications in July.

The council’s votes came two weeks after the council approved zoning rules for dispensaries, production and cultivation facilities. Only 12 dispensaries will be allowed in the city. There are no limits on cultivation or production facilities, but all medical pot businesses must be 1,000 feet from schools, 300 feet from parks and community centers, and 300 feet from places of worship.

Dispensaries will also be allowed on Fremont Street east of 8th Street and on Las Vegas Boulevard.

By state law, 66 medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in the state, including 40 in Clark County. Of those 40, Las Vegas gets 12, Henderson gets five, North Las Vegas gets four and Mesquite would get one.

Council members stressed that this is all new territory; they aren’t sure how these regulations will work in the long run. If they find it isn’t working, “then we go back,” said Councilman Ross. “If there’s too little or too much enforcement, we go back and change it.”

Other regulations outline annual license fees:

• Permit application fee, nonrefundable: $5,000.

• Cultivation facility: $20,000 for first 5,000 square feet; $10,000 for each additional 5,000 square feet.

• Edible marijuana products facility: $25,000.

• Dispensary: $75,000

• Testing lab: $10,000.

• Not for kids: Products can’t be made or packaged in ways that might attract minors (remember candy cigarettes?). Same goes for advertising.

• No product use within the facility.

• Round-the-clock surveillance with a live feed available to Metro Police. On-site security is required for cultivation facilities from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

• Tax reports, business plans, resumes, accounting plans and financial histories of each owner, in addition to copies of all contracts for consulting, management and leases required to obtain a special-use permit.

• The city can deny an application if it feels a business is “not in the best interest of the welfare, health or safety of the city.”

Before the votes, several people testified that license fees were so high that many well-intentioned, would-be owners were priced out of the market.

Councilman Bob Beers said many of the fees were set by state lawmakers, and the Legislature was the appropriate body to consider those issues.

The 27-page document finally passed after six hours of discussion.

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