Cannabis lounges in unincorporated Washoe County shot down by commissioners

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev.— The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners have rejected amendments the Cannabis Code to include consumption lounges as an approved use in unincorporated Washoe County. 

“It’s surprising that we’re back here again,” said Vice Chair Jeanne Herman. 

The board initially initiated the amendments for the lounges in Oct. 2022 before the Washoe County Planning Commission tied in their vote for the item, resulting in a technical denial in Dec. 2022. 

The BCC upheld the decision of the WCPC in Jan. 2023, but the item came back to the board at the request of Commissioner Michael Clark, who wanted to give business owners an adequate chance of performing community outreach in his district prior to a decision. 

“We have a new board, and it’s an opportunity to reconsider per the commissioner’s request and we can have that discussion today,” said Chairwoman Alexis Hill. 

Following a presentation by assistant county manager Dave Solaro about the different types of lounges that could be allowed in the county, the board opened public comment to gauge the public’s general feeling on the allowance of lounges in the area. 

Local resident of Incline Village Rhonda Tycer voiced many of the concerns that were brought up in public comment, ranging from concerns of impaired driving to having no accurate assessment for traffic stops that could potentially involve cannabis. 

“There is no real benefit to Incline Village residents,” said Tycer. 

Incline Village resident Helen Neff, who has dedicated much of her time to traffic and pedestrian safety and raising awareness in the community, worried about impaired drivers on the roads in an already congested area. 

“Cannabis consumption lounges should not be considered in Washoe County until standardized testing is adopted by the NHTSA,” said Neff. “Otherwise you are further jeopardizing everyone’s safety, including innocent drivers, unimpaired, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.” 

The board voted in a 3-2 vote to not direct staff to move forward with the initiation of amendments for cannabis lounges, although some in public comment brought up the beneficial uses of cannabis lounges, ranging from education on consumption and use by medical patients. 

While Commissioner Clark was the one to bring the item forward, he ultimately voted against it. 

“I wanted to make the sentiment of the constituents was still what it was initially,” said Clark. “I think that the citizens of my district-District 2-have not changed their views. I’m not opposed to this kind of thing… I’m not opposed to adults acting responsibly, but in this case, I’m going to do what I like to always to which is stand with the constituents that are going to be affected by this.
 “These folks are going to be living there a lot longer than any of us are going to be on the dais here, and I’m going to respect the opinion of my constituents.” 

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