“If you’ve got (items) related to medical marijuana, we’re not going to get into that yet,” North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee warned city planning commissioners last month. “They’re not going to be heard. If they get past you guys, they’ll be killed by us.”
Lee, taking on the matter of state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries at a Nov. 19 special City Council meeting, didn’t blow a lot of smoke around the topic.
The city, he said, is in no hurry to amend municipal ordinances to allow for the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries and may not be for a while.
The dispensaries, first legalized via statewide referendum in 2001, remained practically inoperable without a June legislative fix adopted to allow for local licensing.
Separate statewide dispensary regulations are slated for adoption by April 1, giving cities and counties plenty of time to hash out their own position on the new law.
Lee looked to get ahead of the curve last month, explaining that his city has no immediate use for “the marijuana issue,” at least not yet.
“That’s one thing we’re trying to stay away from,” he said. “We’re following Henderson and Las Vegas’ lead on these kind of things.”
Lee’s opinion on the possibility of killing future dispensary applications came as news to interim City Attorney Sandra Douglass-Morgan, who said the city hasn’t yet adopted an official position on the matter.
Morgan said city officials haven’t looked to adopt a moratorium on dispensary licensing to match similar measures adopted in Las Vegas and proposed in Reno but will instead take a wait-and-see approach.
“What we’re doing, like a lot of jurisdictions out there, is waiting on the state to come down with regulations for us to follow sometime in January,” Morgan said. “Once they do, we’ll see what we have to do to change municipal codes to comply with those regulations.”
Reached for comment Nov. 21, Lee looked to soften his own take on the possibility of future city dispensaries.
The first-term mayor wasn’t sure whether his views were shared by other city leaders but said he doubted that anybody was willing to spend money studying the issue immediately.
“I understand there are people who think (dispensaries) will be a big help for them,” he said. “I just didn’t want the planning commission putting resources into something we can’t handle right now.”
Ward 3 City Councilwoman Anita Wood, who stood by Lee’s de facto ban on new medical marijuana agenda items, said she remains willing to hear dispensary owners and industry advocates rebuffed by the more formal moratorium in Las Vegas.
At least so far, phones haven’t been ringing off the hook.
“I can’t speak for anybody else, but I haven’t received a single phone call on the issue,” Wood said, “and I think if other (council members) were being inundated with phone calls, it probably would have come up at some point in conversation.”
None of Wood’s or Lee’s three fellow council members returned requests for comment.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839.