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July 29, 2014

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County maneuvers for final say on marijuana dispensary licenses

The Clark County Commission signaled today it would ignore a recommendation by the state and continue with its medical marijuana application process unchanged.

Commissioners said during a meeting today that they plan to choose operators for 18 dispensaries from a pool of 81 applicants when they review applications starting June 4.

That differs from a request from the state Monday afternoon that local governments forward “a large number of applicants” for state approval.

Under the two-step system imposed by the Legislature in 2013, medical marijuana applicants must receive a special-use permit from local governments and a license from the state.

Local and state governments are conducting separate application processes. This has led to a tug of war over who ultimately decides which medical marijuana applications are approved.

At stake are a limited number of dispensary licenses.

The state plans to allow 40 dispensaries in Clark County, with a maximum of 18 in the unincorporated areas.

By approving only 18 applicants at the local level, the commission is attempting to force the state to consider only its preferred candidates.

Commissioners split over whether to send more applicants to the state. Some favored sending 20 or more, so the state would have options if it disapproves of one of the county’s selections.

But a majority of commissioners, including Chairman Steve Sisolak, supported sending only 18.

“I think that the public is better served by the commissioners that are closest to the area” making the recommendations, Sisolak said.

Commissioners will review 193 applications for licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities, production facilities and testing laboratories at a public hearing starting at noon June 4. The hearing is expected to last several days.

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