SPARKS — Dozens of people waiting in line cheered Friday when Nevada’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Sparks, 15 years after voters approved medicinal pot.
Silver State Relief, locate in a shopping center on a busy street corner, became the first dispensary to open its doors after state legislators in 2013 approved a law setting up a framework for regulation and taxation. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2000.
Dana Metz, 64, was the first person in line, arriving two hours before the 10 a.m. opening. A sufferer of chronic back pain, Metz said he turned to medicinal pot to get off countless drugs prescribed by doctors.
“It just makes a better quality of life,” he said. “It’s been a lot of years, waiting for this.”
The opening of the dispensary in Northern Nevada comes as the process has bogged down in the state’s population hub of Clark County, where some dispensaries and other marijuana operators are crying foul over what they claim is bureaucratic red tape and changing requirements.
There are 10,027 people with medical marijuana cards in Nevada, with most, 6,696, living in Clark County, according to the most recent records from the state.
State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who pushed for the law, praised the progress in Sparks.
“I’m very excited for Sparks,” Segerblom said. The fact that they are the first ones shows you how crazy it is down here.”
Euphoria Wellness, a Clark County dispensary that hoped to open in February, has filed a public records request through its attorney seeking internal county emails and other records to explain delays in allowing the businesses to open.
Maggie McLetchie, Euphoria’s attorney, has called the county’s treatment of Euphoria unfair and arbitrary and argues county officials have prohibited the dispensary from buying plants from home growers, even though it is allowed by law.
That is what operators of Silver State Relief in Sparks did to get up and running, said General Manager Aron Swan.
“We bought harvest ready plants,” Swan said outside the business shortly before opening. The plants yielded about 14 pounds.
The operation has its own grow house which should be producing soon, he said.
In the meantime, the dispensary is selling about six strains of marijuana that have names such as Girl Scout Cookie, Skunk One, Ghost OG and Purple Kush.
Because of the limited supply, no edible product are yet being offered, and patients are limited to buying one-half ounce, which sells for $195.
Swan handed out clipboards to patients outside to fill out paperwork as they waited in line.
“We’re excited, nervous, overwhelmed, emotional — everything,” Swan told a reporter.
The dispensary is located in a shopping center that also has a gas station and mini-mart, a vape shop, a sandwhich shop, a Starbucks and a pizza parlor.
The dispensary itself is constructed of cinderblock and has bullet-proof glass in the waiting area. The property has 32 security cameras.
Back in line, the number of people waiting to go in swelled to more than 50 by the time the doors finally opened.
“Look at this,” said Barbara Dunn, 54. “They’re all old people. They just want to be out of pain.”
Once paperwork was finalized, patients were taken into a separate back room to view products and complete their purchase.
Besides marijuana, customers received a commemorative T-shirt with the Silver State Relief name, the date, and the words, “Nevada’s 1st Dispensary I was there!”
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