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Medical marijuana could be a benefit for North Las Vegas

A $1 billion electric car plant and a futuristic transportation test track are among developments North Las Vegas hopes will pay off and diversify its economy.

There’s another, greener, economic development that officials hope will fatten the city’s wallet.

The city has received more state provisional licenses for growing and producing medical marijuana products than Henderson and Las Vegas combined. The financially ailing city hopes those licenses lead to big bucks.

State law currently limits Clark County to 40 licensed dispensaries, including four in North Las Vegas, but there is no limit on grow houses or production operations.

A 2014 city ordinance was created to attract medical marijuana facilities to Apex Industrial Park, said Gregory Blackburn, North Las Vegas director of community development and compliance.

“Apex is unique, completely out of the way of other businesses in the valley,” Blackburn said. “There’s a lot of land out there.”

Under the ordinance, operational grow houses and production facilities at Apex pay 2 percent quarterly fees on gross revenue.

Grow houses and production facilities also pay one-time origination fees of $30,000 and $25,000 respectively at Apex.

Elsewhere in the city, cultivation facilities and production facililities pay an annual licensing fee of $30,000 and $25,000 respectively. On top of that, is a quarterly 3 to 4 percent gross revenue fee that increases every other year and caps at 6 percent.

Fee revenue goes to the city’s general fund.

The city made almost $1.1 million from medical marijuana zoning and business licensing during the 2014-15 fiscal year. That number dropped to about $273,000 for fiscal year 2015-16. The amount made from building permit fees was not immediately available.

Of the 20 cultivation and 15 production licenses that were approved for Apex, only a few businesses have followed through. Some didn’t realize the infrastructure cost to get power to the sites, and others decided it would be cheaper to buy or lease a building elsewhere than to build a facility from scratch, Blackburn said.

At least 18 cultivation or production facilities in North Las Vegas have begun or completed construction.

There is one operational grow house at Apex and several others at various levels of construction.

David Rosen, CEO of Waveseer LLC., which has taken up residence in a former shrimp farm facility at Apex, said he was drawn there not because of reduced fees, but because of the room to grow.

Rosen said the city has “cultivation facilities that you can find, don’t cost as much to retrofit.”

The 36,000-square-foot former shrimp facility and a nearby 5,000-square-foot building were a perfect match for growing marijuana because both required lots of water and power.

Ten businesses each in Henderson and Las Vegas received state provisional licenses for grow houses. In Henderson, six received state provisional licenses for production and Las Vegas has four.

North Las Vegas has been approved for 50 cultivation and more than 70 state provisional production licenses, according to December data from the Nevada Public and Behavioral Health Division. Of those, five have received cultivation licenses from the city, but none has received a production license from the city.

Medical marijuana use was approved in Nevada in 2000, but medical marijuana establishments weren’t made legal until 2013. The first medical marijuana facilities opened last year.

According to a report from the Public and Behavioral Health Division, 15,238 people were medical marijuana cardholders as of February, and 10,284 of those were in Clark County.

Contact Alexander S. Corey at acorey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0270. Find him on Twitter: @acoreynews.

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