Henderson eyes different approach to medical marijuana dispensaries


Henderson is taking a different path toward licensing medical marijuana facilities, letting the state decide who is best qualified to operate dispensaries before applicants go before the City Council.

Bristol Ellington, Henderson’s assistant city manager, said that under a proposed ordinance the city will look at eight criteria to determine preliminary findings of suitability for the companies that plan to enter Nevada’s newest industry, an industry that is expected to be lucrative.

Those will then be sent to the city’s community development department for zoning approval before being passed to the state.

Among the criteria are:

■ Applicants could have no felony record.

■ FBI background checks would be required.

■ Applicants would have to legally reside in the United States.

■ Partnership, company or association must have 20 percent of its ownership residing in Nevada.

“We are not bringing the applicants before the council for six minutes each like they did at the county,” Ellington said. “The applicants will go to the state. We will get the applicants ranked from the state, then we will start our process.”

This is a departure from the process Clark County commissioners approved to enact Senate Bill 374, which allows local governments to develop guidelines for private companies to supply medical marijuana patients with the pain- and nausea-relieving substance, and bring in new revenue to the county while they’re at it.

The commission June 6 whittled down the applications from 79 to 18, the number of dispensaries the county plans to license, before sending them to the state. The Las Vegas and North Las Vegas processes closely follow the county model.

The Henderson City Council on Tuesday will review a series of proposed bills that would set the parameters for medical marijuana establishments, including locations, fees, the application process and general regulations. The ordinances are scheduled for adoption at the July 1 council meeting.

If the parameters are adopted at that time, the city plans to take applications July 7-17, which would allow the city eight business days.

According to Marla McDade-Williams, deputy administrator for the state’s division of public and behavioral health, the state will accept all applications from Aug. 5-18 and will then have as many as 90 days to review them.

“Depending on how many we get, it may take all that time or less time,” McDade-Williams said.

If that timetable plays out, it would be November or December at the earliest that the top applications would go before the city Planning Commission, then the City Council for approval of the business license and conditional use permit.

The state then will rank the applicants for suitability and send them back to Henderson. While Henderson has been approved for five dispensaries by the county, Ellington said he will send all preliminary suitable applications to the state.

The draft going before the council goes beyond what the state requires in some of its regulations, Ellington said. The city also looked out of state in Colorado and Arizona for ordinance guidance. “We tried to take what we thought were some of the best criteria from other jurisdictions to create ours,” Ellington said.

Henderson’s tentative regulation follows the state guidelines of marijuana establishments with a minimum separation of 1,000 feet from schools, but extends the state requirement of 300 feet from a community facility — parks, playgrounds, public pools, religious facilities — to 1,000 feet.

Also, the city would like to keep a mile between dispensaries, although the council could waive that requirement, while North Las Vegas would require 1,000 feet, and the other two jurisdictions have no separation requirement.

The city also would keep medical marijuana establishments at least 300 feet from residences and have the businesses operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“This intent was to have them dispersed throughout the city instead of clustered,” Ellington said. “Because there could be some difficulties in finding locations, we wanted to give the council flexibility on designating locations.”

Henderson is proposing a nonrefundable fee of $10,000 for each application. Once an application is approved, the license holders would pay from $60,000 for a license to operate a cultivation facility and dispensary at a location to $100,000 for a license to operate a cultivation facility, dispensary and production facility for edible or marijuana-infused products at one or more locations.

A fee of 6 percent of monthly gross revenue then would be assessed.

A license for an independent testing laboratory would cost $15,000 plus a semiannual fee. There is also a $25,000 non­refundable indemnity fee.

Ellington said the city would like to have medical marijuana establishments that grow, produce and dispense in one spot or connected locations for better quality.

Contact Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.

 

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