Medical marijuana dispensaries will soon be a reality in southern Nevada. During a zoning meeting Wednesday, Clark County commissioners passed an ordinance approving those dispensaries in a 4-2 vote.
A few changes were made to the original plan, though.
About 4,000 Nevadans are in possession of medical marijuana cards. Later this week or early next week, those interested in opening dispensaries should be able to fill out applications to do so.
The plan is to allow for 10 dispensaries and an unlimited number of cultivation facilities in the county. On Wednesday, commissioners decided it will be determined on a case-by-case basis if a dispensary will be allowed to open in a particular location.
Commissioners also removed boundary restrictions between dispensaries and residential areas.
Cultivation facilities will only be allowed to operate in industrial areas.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she would rather see big-box stores that grow and sell marijuana, making the purchase of medical marijuana less expensive and more convenient for patients.
"Then you have to go buy production from somebody else. You're raising cost for someone to get their medicine. You have to be sensitive to some of the outcomes of policy decision," Giunchigliani said.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak said each cultivation facility will create about 200 jobs.
The road to opening a marijuana dispensary will be a long one. Those interested must first obtain an operating license and then a city or county business license.
The next step is a merit-based application with the state.
Attorney Amanda Conner represents several clients interested in operating dispensaries. She said they will be small establishments, where only medical marijuana can be purchased. Only card-carrying patients will be allowed to enter the businesses.
Some local homeowners have expressed concern about a rise in neighborhood crime.
"Moving forward with this will actually make the community a safer and better place because the local government and state government will be heavily regulating and monitoring where the medicine is and who is having access to it," Conner said.
An application for a marijuana dispensary will cost about $5,000. The county will accept applications from April 16 until May 2.
Commissioners will review applications during a meeting on May 5.
Also on Wednesday, Las Vegas moved forward with allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.
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