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Henderson one step closer to retail marijuana sales

Henderson inched closer to the sale of legalized recreational marijuana Tuesday night after city officials approved ordinances days before a 7-month moratorium expires.

The Henderson City Council voted 3-2 to adopt an ordinance to establish retail marijuana regulations and licenses. Councilmen John Marz and Dan Stewart voted against the ordinance.

“Marijuana was legalized in Nevada nine months ago by the voters in our state,” Henderson Mayor Debra March said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure the industry is regulated to our gold standard of doing business in the city of Henderson. Tonight we took the first steps in approving a process that will work for both residents and businesses.”

In February, the City Council adopted a six-month moratorium on issuing recreational marijuana licenses. The moratorium was extended 30 days last month and will expire Thursday.

It will cost approximately $71,000 for current medical marijuana operators to get recreational marijuana licenses, said city business operations manager Michael Cathcart.

Zoning regulations were also adopted, which require cultivation facilities, dispensaries, infusion manufacturing and independent testing labs to be at least 300 feet from community facilities and 1,000 feet from schools, public parks and playgrounds.

Dispensaries must be at least one-mile apart.

The city has licensed seven medical marijuana facilities, including five dispensaries, one cultivation and production facility and one cultivation facility. According to state law, only currently licensed medical marijuana business owners can apply to sell recreational marijuana.

Retail sales in Henderson could begin in October, city spokesman David Cherry said.

Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, said Henderson could get up to $5.3 million in retail marijuana tax by 2021. Aguero also said 750 jobs could be created by the recreational industry.

Moving too fast?

Many residents spoke for the legal sale of recreational marijuana during the public meeting portion, citing tax revenue going toward schools and the positive medical and health effects of marijuana.

“When I was younger, I used to love the high that I would get, but when you bought it from someone, you never knew if it was laced with something,” said Henderson resident Jan Landy, 66. “Now at least people will be safe.”

However, Councilman Dan Stewart said the city is moving too quickly.

“We are different. We are a premier city,” Stewart said. “I think we can make a bold statement by having no recreational marijuana in our city. … There are too many unintended consequences that we just don’t know about.”

Councilmen John Marz and Dan Shaw agreed with Stewart, citing the lack of controls due to its status as a cash industry.

“We’re a premier city, and to me that means we’re family-oriented, and we’ve been listed as one of the safest cities in the country,” Marz said. “We care about what happens in this city. To turn around and say we endorse recreational marijuana is an oxymoron.”

Acting Police Chief Todd Peters said 33 DUI arrests were recorded in July, with nine directly tied to marijuana. In August there were 54 DUI arrests with 10 related to marijuana, he said.

Contact Sandy Lopez at slopez@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4686. Follow @JournalismSandy on Twitter.

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