Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2017

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Commissioners get 1st look at proposed medical marijuana regulations


Steve Marcus

Medical marijuana is shown in a home in this 2010 file photo.

Dispensaries and other medical marijuana businesses could begin applying for licenses to set up shop in unincorporated Clark County next month, under regulations introduced to the county commission today.

The issue: County commissioners got a first look at zoning regulations that will restrict where and how medical marijuana businesses operate in unincorporated parts of the county.

The vote: Commissioners will vote on the ordinance after a public hearing at their March 19 meeting.

What it means: Barring any setbacks, Clark County is likely to become the first municipal government in the valley to allow medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities and other related businesses to open within its boundaries.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing and possibly vote on the regulations at their March 19 meeting. If the regulations are approved, the county would accept licenses for medical marijuana businesses from April 2 through April 18.

Medical marijuana was authorized after voters amended the Nevada Constitution in 2000, but a system for legally obtaining the drug wasn’t established until the most recent session of the Legislature in 2013.

Since then, the state has been busy crafting regulations that will allow businesses to grow, test and sell medical marijuana to patients. Local governments also have a say, setting zoning and licensing rules that cover where dispensaries and other businesses can be located.

Other local governments have been hesitant to embrace medical marijuana, passing moratoriums on medical marijuana licensing or outright bans.

Clark County has taken a different approach, moving quickly to establish its own regulations and licensing process that will allow it to pick its preferred applicants before the state begins its licensing process this summer.

Dozens of applications are expected for a limited number of dispensary licenses — the unincorporated county will receive 10 licenses initially — meaning commissioners will face a challenge when doling out the special-use permits needed to operate a medical marijuana business.

After the application process closes, the commission will hold a public hearing to review the applications and choose its preferred operators. Those receiving the special-use permits from the county would have an advantage in the contest for the coveted state dispensary licenses, which will be awarded after an application process expected to start in June.

The county regulations introduced today address where dispensaries and other businesses in the nascent medical marijuana industry can locate and what restrictions they must operate under.

Dispensaries would be allowed to locate within commercially zoned districts, like most other retail businesses. Testing laboratories, which will verify the quality of the medical marijuana, also will be allowed in commercial districts, while cultivation facilities, where the crop is grown, and production facilities, where edibles and other marijuana-infused goods are made, will be limited to manufacturing and light industrial areas. No medical marijuana establishments would be allowed on or around the Las Vegas Strip.

The rules also require that facilities not be within 1,000 feet of a school or 300 feet of a church or communal facility. Other restrictions limit hours of operation and the number of signs businesses will be allowed to display.

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