Clark County commissioners voted to change the way medical marijuana licenses are divvied up in a unanimous vote that took from Henderson and North Las Vegas, gave big to the county and contributed a slight bump to the city of Las Vegas.
In a move by Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani, the number of medical marijuana licenses was revised based on population.
Clark County went from 10 to 18 licenses. The city of Las Vegas went from 10 to 12. Henderson, which has a moratorium, was allowed 10 but that has been cut to five. North Las Vegas went from 10 to four. Boulder City decided it didn’t want any such businesses, so it’s out of the game. Mesquite is allocated one.
Initially the county said it would take the licenses other governments, such as Boulder City, didn’t want.
Henderson and North Las Vegas objected to the change, and Las Vegas objected if it meant their numbers would dip below 10, which didn’t happen.
Officials in Henderson failed to respond to calls asking if they might take legal steps to challenge the county’s actions.
In North Las Vegas, the mayor’s chief of staff, Ryann Juden, said, “We’re looking at our options. Our code is centered around access for medical patients, not the lobbyists.”
Sisolak said he wrote to North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in January about changing the allocation so it would be based on population but received no response from either.
Henderson City Manager Jacob Snow responded in a letter asking that the county “preserve Henderson’s current allocation of dispensaries.”
The state law said there can be 40 dispensary certificates in the county, but no local government can have more than 25 percent. The county has been the swiftest to advance the process, and the law allows the county to increase the percentage of dispensaries.
But Snow said he didn’t think the law allows the county to decrease the percentages allowed. Previously, 10 licenses each were allocated to the county, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. Snow asked for an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion.
But the commissioners unanimously voted to reallocate based on population.
The discussion shifted into how commissioners would decide which of the 109 applications might be chosen. Applicants packed the commission chambers and listened intently.
Commissioners Larry Brown and Susan Brager both expressed their concerns about how they would choose between applicants. Should locals be given a priority? What about considering accessibility for patients? What role should experience play when locals haven’t had experience in selling and producing medical marijuana?
Only one testing lab applied, and it discovered the site it proposed was too close to a school, so the company is scrambling to find another site. The deadline to file an application for a medical marijuana testing lab has been extended to 5 p.m. May 16.
Some people already have bought land they hope will pass the various land use standards developed by the county.
In the competition to get approval for medical marijuana establishments, the county has now given itself an advantage by increasing the odds for applicants looking at a county site and decreasing the odds for anyone looking for sites in North Las Vegas and Henderson.
Contact Jane Ann Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0275.