Douglas County commissioners are expected to discuss a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana establishments on Thursday.
The moratorium would last no more than 360 days and would give the count time to evaluate final state regulations and the application process, legal consideration and impacts on the county’s residents.
The new state law permitting dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing labs and production facilities goes into effect on April 1, according to a memo written by Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory and Dirk Goering of the Community Development Department.
The moratorium would prevent the county from accepting any applications to operate, permit or license any medical marijuana related enterprise.
State regulations dealing with medical marijuana are still in draft form and aren’t expected to be ready until summer. The earliest the state will issue a certificate is fall, according to the memorandum.
Only one medical marijuana dispensary could be located in Douglas County, according to the draft regulations. The moratorium won’t prevent present medical marijuana card users from growing plants for their own use.
Nevada’s large counties have also put the state’s new medical marijuana law on hold as they move toward developing regulations, while some smaller jurisdictions haven’t even begun to deal with the rules authorizing dispensaries and growers.
Representatives of Nevada counties and Marla McDade Williams of the state Health Division said there are numerous questions to be resolved, including what application information is confidential and appeal rights for applicants denied a permit. There also are issues about where marijuana establishments can be opened, as well as safety and security issues and inspections, local fees and other potential questions.
The counties are all trying to respond to the law passed by the 2013 Legislature setting up a system of marijuana growers, producers of edible products, dispensaries and testing labs to provide holders of medical marijuana cards with a way to get the drug.
“I’m becoming increasingly pessimistic this can work and be effective,” said state Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, pointing to the complexities local officials are finding in implementing the law.
The entire plan is still compromised by the fact possession and use of any marijuana remains a federal crime, he said.
Conceding that he voted for the law, he said, “I’m just not sure this can work.”
The bill’s author Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, however, pointed out that every local government has the right to “opt out” of the system.
Clark and Washoe counties are moving forward to develop regulations for permitting cultivators, dispensaries and producers of edibles, but neither has committed to actually allowing them.
Jacqueline Holloway of the Clark County business licensing department said that county commission voted in November to proceed with work on licensing and land-use issues. She said the county expects to adopt the state’s regulations and will handle licensing of marijuana establishments “very much the same way we handle liquor and gaming licenses.”
The subject is on the Clark County Commission’s Feb. 5 agenda.
Bob Webb of Washoe County said commissioners there voted in November not to accept applications until after they develop and adopt regulations. Like Clark officials, he said, Washoe intends to handle medical marijuana applications “through licensing like any other license application.” The plan is to have those issues resolved by June, he said.
Carson City’s board of Supervisors voted to put a 180-day moratorium on accepting license applications in place, with plans to take up the issue of whether to allow dispensaries and growers in the capital next month.
Among the small counties, only Lyon and Storey responded with ordinances banning participation in the medical marijuana program.
Churchill and most other counties are reviewing the new law.