Clark County has received 206 proposals to operate medical marijuana establishments from 109 companies jostling for a foothold in a new industry for Nevada.
The county released the figures Tuesday, the deadline for applying for a business license to operate a medical marijuana establishment. Under the state law that passed in 2013, up to 10 dispensaries are allowed in unincorporated Clark County.
Ninety submissions are for dispensaries, 70 are for cultivation facilities, 45 are for production facilities, and one is for a laboratory to test the products, county spokesman Dan Kulin said.
The county has a marathon public hearing planned on June 5 — and possibly June 6 — to choose the applicants. For the dispensaries, a big selling point will be geography. The county’s policy is to have dispensaries throughout the region for better patient access instead of lumped together in one neighborhood.
The county would not provide the Review-Journal with any addresses of the proposed business locations Tuesday.
Some of the 109 companies filed multiple applications among the 206 submissions. Breakdowns were unavailable Tuesday.
County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the numbers are nowhere near the 400 to 500 predicted. The application process requirements and the need for a good business model and capital played a role, she said.
Still, she said, “I think it will be a nice competitive process.”
Nevada voters supported medical marijuana in 2000, but patients could not legally obtain the product unless they grew it on their own.
“This is a good thing,” said Vicki Higgins, 52, a medical marijuana advocate who uses it to relieve her symptoms of fibromyalgia. “We can go and purchase medicine without feeling like criminals.”
The companies applying have names that reflect medical marijuana themes, in some cases. The Joint, West of Amsterdam-Dispensary, and NuLeaf Clark Dispensary are among those hoping to open businesses.
The law allows local government entities to craft their own regulations. Clark County, for example, isn’t allowing dispensaries in the gaming corridor.
When culling the applicants, the county will use a special permit process, which gives commissioners broad discretion in determining if a proposed location is suitable for its surroundings.
The new law allows up to 66 dispensaries in Nevada, 40 of them in Clark County, when including those allowed in cities.
But Clark County is the first to accept applications, while cities have been slower to move toward allowing medical marijuana establishments.
The Las Vegas City Council voted 5-2 in March to allow medical marijuana operations. The city is still drafting the licensing and zoning regulations, which will face approval from the council. The city won’t start accepting applications until those regulations are in place.
North Las Vegas city officials will start accepting license applications as soon as Nevada regulators sign off on the applicants expected to seek state-level approval later this summer.
The city of Henderson approved a six-month moratorium on applications for medical marijuana businesses in January.
Review-Journal writer James DeHaven contributed to this report. Contact Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.