Henderson City Council approved regulations for medical marijuana establishments Tuesday, and will start accepting applications Monday.
The five-member council unanimously approved a series of city codes and zoning regulations for medical marijuana establishments, including location restrictions, fees, license classes and the application process. There was no public opposition at the meeting. The codes were first introduced to the City Council on June 17.
Mayor Andy Hafen said it is important for city regulations to provide a framework so that the medical marijuana establishments serve the community.
“The thing I really want to see here is that these dispensaries, the labs, the manufacturing facilities, that they are not run down,” said Hafen while discussing the regulations. “That they actually are with the goals of trying to be a premier city here.”
Henderson is expected to receive state approval for five dispensaries, but is not limited on the amount of cultivation and manufacturing facilities the city will be allowed to approve.
With the new regulations in place, applications will be accepted from Monday to July 17. Henderson will send all preliminary suitable applications to the state. The state will accept applications from Aug. 5 to 18. The state will then have up to 90 days to review them, then rank the best qualified applicants to operate dispensaries before applicants go before council, likely late this year.
Assistant City Manager Bristol Ellington told the council the application should be on the city’s website by Thursday.
If that timetable plays out, it would be November or December at the earliest that the top applications would go before the the City Council for approval of the business license and conditional use permit. The council approved a city staff recommendation to remove the planning commission from the process, having the applications come straight to the council for approval to save time for the business owners trying to open an establishment.
Removing the commission from the process was not the only change. The City Council did reduce some commercial use requirements that were first introduced on June 17 to open up the areas within the city dispensaries and other facilities could operate, and removed the requirement of applicants appearing before the city Planning Commission first.
The city removed the requirement for a 300-foot separation to residential, opening up the potential for dispensaries to operate in commercial neighborhood centers, such as strip malls.
Councilman Sam Bateman said even with the 300-foot separation removed, he will be listening to area residents if there is opposition to a marijuana-related business opening in certain areas.
“If (applicants) are coming in on a conditional use permit, there’s going to be a notice to the neighbors and they potentially are going to have a lot of say coming in here as to whether they want that in their neighborhood,” Bateman said. “I, personally, will be very sensitive to that fact.”
Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson do not regulate separation from dispensary to residential, but North Las Vegas and the county do have distances between residential and cultivation and infusion facilities.
The council also reduced from 1,000 feet to 300 feet the separation to community facilities, such as child daycare, recreation centers for children and adolescence, and religious facilities. These separations are the same in the other three jurisdictions. However, Henderson extended the separation from 300 feet to 1,000 feet to public parks and playgrounds.
While the lowered separation requirements and the opening of commercial neighborhood areas will provide more areas for potential establishments, Councilman John Marz expressed concern the city still might see clustering of dispensaries.
“If we’re really going to be serious about this as a need for our citizens, then maybe we should have a dispensary in every ward,” Marz said. “That way it’s within easy accessible distance to the people in our community.”
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.
Henderson will charge 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 the monthly gross revenue then would be assessed.
Henderson would like to have medical marijuana establishments that grow, produce and dispense in one spot or connected locations for better quality.