Las Vegas Sun

May 21, 2018

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Henderson council votes to extend moratorium on recreational weed

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Steve Marcus

A view of the lobby at the Essence medical marijuana dispensary, 4300 East Sunset Rd., in Henderson Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. The company has three locations in the Las Vegas Valley including one on the Las Vegas Strip.

Marijuana shoppers hoping to buy recreational weed in Henderson will have to wait for at least another month after the Henderson City Council voted unanimously to extend a moratorium on the product until September.

The moratorium, which prevents the city’s five licensed marijuana dispensaries from selling the plant for recreational use, also prevents over a dozen combined cultivation, testing and production facilities from operating in the recreational market. Medical marijuana sales are not affected by the moratorium.

“We’ve been working on regulations for several months now and we feel like we’re almost there,” Councilwoman Gerri Schroder said. “We just need a little more time.”

The city council on Feb. 7 voted for a six-month moratorium that would have expired Sunday, after originally considering a yearlong moratorium as early as January. Tuesday’s vote will extend the moratorium to Sept. 7 and will be discussed further at the council’s Sept. 5 meeting.

Nevada legalized up to one ounce of marijuana flower or one-eighth ounce of the THC equivalent of concentrates for recreational use and possession on Jan. 1 following the passage of last November’s Ballot Question 2. Recreational sales of the plant began on July 1 after temporary regulations from the Nevada Department of Taxation and Nevada Legislature were approved earlier this year.

Permanent regulations, as called on by the original start date for recreational marijuana sales per Ballot Questions 2, do not take place until Jan. 1.

Among provisions discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, Henderson Mayor Debra March said the city would consider allowing marijuana dispensaries to stay open 24 hours, which is currently allowed only in North Las Vegas. March, Schroder and acting Henderson Police Chief Todd Peters cited that longer hours could help prevent a recent string of burglaries of marijuana facilities.

Twelve marijuana facilities have been broken into since the start of the year, Peters said.

“Longer hours would be better for security — it’s worth a discussion.” Peters said. “The burglaries tend to take place after business hours.”

Owners of marijuana dispensaries in Henderson met Tuesday’s ruling with a generally positive reaction.

Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and owner of Henderson-based The+Source dispensary, said he was “satisfied” that the city is in the process of drafting ordinances to allow retail sales.

“In the big picture I don’t think 30 days is going to be very significant in terms of losing business,” Jolley said. “But ultimately I hope they choose to implement the will of the voters and allow retail sales.”

Armen Yemenidjian, owner of Henderson-based Essence dispensary, agreed, adding the city was handling the process “diligently and deliberately.”

“It’s not the best option, but it’s an option,” he said. “It’s just how Henderson does things, by the book.”

Editor’s note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary.

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