Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2018

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County mulls ban on standalone recreational pot shops

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John Locher / AP

In this June 30, 2017, photo, Bryce Tallitsch hangs up a sign for recreational marijuana at the NuLeaf dispensary in Las Vegas.

Opposition from some commissioners and marijuana dispensary owners isn’t stopping Clark County from drafting an ordinance that would ban standalone recreational pot shops.

Commissioner Susan Brager asked county staff to draft an ordinance requiring that a recreational marijuana facility be co-located with a medical facility. The state is currently not issuing medical marijuana licenses, but applicants can file in the coming months for less than a dozen recreational licenses in Clark County.

Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick was among those who questioned the need for the ordinance, saying that the county could regulate itself into a corner. Dispensary owners emphasized maintaining the integrity of the medical marijuana market, intended to help patients. Some also pointed to the need for local government to maintain options when it is deciding where it will allow dispensaries.

Brager said current dispensaries are sufficient to meet the needs in Clark County.

“Law enforcement can barely keep up with black market operators,” Brager said. “ … We already have lots of smoking going on up and down the Strip that Metro can’t keep up with, so eventually we may be looking at something else there.”

Chuck Callaway, director of Metro Police's Office of Intergovernmental Services, told commissioners that law enforcement is seeing an increase in black market activity, such as illegal marijuana delivery services. Vendors from California were found to be operating illegally at a recent pop-up event, where officials recovered over 120 pounds of illegal marijuana product.

“Once you let the cat out of the bag it’s hard to put the cat back in,” Callaway said. “We just urge moving slowly at this time when it comes to expansion of these businesses.”