Washoe County commissioners denied a request at their meeting last week to allow Green Thumb Industries (also referred to as GTI or Rise Incline Village) move their medical marijuana dispensary from Incline Village to 15 Eagle Canyon Drive in Spanish Springs.
Although GTI meets zoning requirements in both locations and hold a certificate to open a dispensary in Incline Village, the decision came after an Oct. 18 public meeting at the Spanish Springs Library where over 40 people were in attendance. Community members expressed concerns about its proximity to schools, security, loitering, and possible traffic issues at the intersection of Eagle Canyon and Pyramid Highway.
“Areas of concern were parking within the designated business area, access related to ingress and egress, proximity to children who congregate in the shopping center on the main road near the middle school and high school, and traffic,” said Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller in the Oct. 25 Board meeting.
Currently each county in Nevada can limit the number of licenses issued. In the last legislative session, the law changed to allow Washoe County 12 licenses for dispensaries in the area- six in incorporated areas and six in unincorporated regions. At least five dispensaries have opened in Reno/Sparks and Incline Village’s NuLeaf opened in July 2016 along with a delivery-only medical marijuana service in Crystal Bay, Lake Tahoe.
At the NuLeaf opening in Incline Village, many residents voiced support of having the dispensary close-by and medicinal marijuana readily available, but thought that two dispensaries in the Incline Village area a couple of miles away from each other would be overkill. There is also a medical marijuana delivery service in Crystal Bay, Nevada.
Schiller says that although medical marijuana dispensaries are properly zoned in each location, GTI purchased their business certificate fairly late (June/July) which may have been a factor in them deciding not to open at the 745 Mays Boulevard location.
NRS.453A.350 (3) enables an MME with a current certificate to request a move to another qualified location within unincorporated Washoe County. The exact statute says, “A medical marijuana establishment may move to a new location under the jurisdiction of the same local government as its original location regardless of the distance from original location if the operation of the medical marijuana establishment at the new location has been approved by the local government. A local government may approve a new location pursuant to this subsection only in a public hearing for which written notice is given at least 7 working days before the hearing.”
However, at the Oct. 25 meeting, the Board unanimously denied the application for GTI’s request to move to the Spanish Springs location. In addition to public outcry, a statement submitted to the County commissioners by Jill Valdez said, “It is critical to think about current and future uses of this dispensary location and the impact on the surrounding area. The proposed location is on the only road leading to my children’s middle school/high school. There are no closer businesses within walking distance of their school. It is unrealistic to think that a dispensary will not impact the tweens and teens congregating at this location.”
Following community feedback, the applicant is looking at other unincorporated locations for its dispensary- maybe in the Spanish Springs/Sparks industrial area.
There are an estimated 3600 medical marijuana cardholders in Washoe County, although the state of Nevada has not confirmed these numbers. If passed, the proposed Measure 2 on the state ballot would allow anyone 21 and older to manufacture, possess, transport, and consume marijuana without being a cardholder. However, Schiller says that since there are no regulations around it yet, it is undetermined what the implications on medical marijuana dispensaries as those details would have to be hashed out.