Las Vegas awaits state rules for medical marijuana dispensaries

Las Vegas won’t yet accept applications for medical marijuana businesses despite a new state law authorizing regulated pot sales and production.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a short-term resolution directing city staff not to accept land use, business license or building permit applications for marijuana businesses.

The resolution is in place until the council has a chance to consider a six-month moratorium on such businesses, which is scheduled for a vote in two weeks.

The refusal to accept applications comes despite the Nevada Legislature’s approval of Senate Bill 374, signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval in June, which authorizes up to 40 dispensaries in Clark County. The bill came more than a decade after the state’s voters approved legalization of medical marijuana and a 2001 law that stipulated patients had to grow the drug themselves.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, although law enforcement has backed off cracking down on people using it for medical reasons. Other states have also loosened marijuana restrictions in recent years.

Several people testified against the resolution before the City Council on Wednesday.

“To further block those efforts really doesn’t serve the people as they voted,” Jennifer Solis told the council.

City officials, however, said the delay is needed in order to have time to create rules for marijuana businesses. The state is required to devise regulations by April and could have them before the end of the year.

“We have done as much work as we can do at this point but we need the state to act before we can forward something to you,” Planning Director Flinn Fagg told the council.

Councilman Steve Ross urged the people who testified in favor of moving forward with dispensaries right away to be patient.

“It is not because we don’t want the dispensaries,” Ross said. “That is not the issue. The issue is how do we get there.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285 .