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Clark County moves to ease marijuana business logjam

Clark County looks to be inching closer to allowing new marijuana dispensaries to open after a nearly nine-month delay.

During their Sep. 3 meeting, county commissioners instructed staff to allow businesses that were awarded retail marijuana dispensary licenses from the state — and which aren’t subject to a recent court injunction — to apply for the required special use permits.

In December 2018, commissioners voted to stop accepting any additional marijuana license applications over concerns the retail-only licenses could harm medical marijuana customers.

Existing dispensaries serve both recreational and medical users, but the latter can buy more potent products and get a 10 percent discount. But Nevada law only allows the state to issue half as many medical dispensary licenses as recreational.

That issue became cloudier when dozens of companies that were not awarded a state license sued Nevada, arguing that the licensing process was not fair or transparent. A District Court judge ruled last month that the state should have conducted more thorough background checks on applicants for marijuana licenses, a ruling that could affect some companies that were awarded licenses.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who prompted the discussion, said that getting businesses up and running that are legally able to move forward should be a priority.

“Without these new dispensaries, the competition is less,” Segerblom said. “There’s really an incentive to get out there and issue these licenses.”

The county is allowing the zoning aspect to go forward, but commissioners weren’t willing to fully commit to licensing those businesses just yet as the concerns over medical consumers has not been addressed. But moving forward with the zoning licenses is the first step in letting those businesses open.

For the six businesses in unincorporated Clark County not subject to the court’s injunction, the deadline to get up and running is looming, as the state license requires them to be open by early December.

David Brown, who said he represents Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, said that given the short time frame, any progress is welcome.

“Whatever help you can give us moving forward today, we’d greatly appreciate it. Because its going to be a race to get these stores open,” Brown said.

Commissioners are expected to further discuss marijuana licenses at their meeting next Tuesday.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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