City of Las Vegas moves forward with medical marijuana

LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas City Council voted to move forward with allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, during council meeting Wednesday.

The council members directed staff to draft regulations for people to set up medical marijuana businesses, including growing, testing and cultivating the drug for medical purposes.

Some council members were hesitant to move forward.

"There's no debate. Marijuana is addictive and harmful to brain development," Mayor Pro-Tem Stavros Anthony said.

He and councilwoman Lois Tarkanian voted against the measure, along with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. However, Goodman was quick to make it clear she is not against medial marijuana in Las Vegas, but was against how the measure was proposed. The mayor wanted individual parts of the measure discussed and voted on. 

In the end, a majority of council members just wanted to get the ball rolling.

"I'm growing a little impatient, mayor and council members. I feel we have larger priorities not only in our local communities but in the state and in the country," councilman Steven Ross said.

Las Vegas City Council also voted to cut a fact finding period, or moratorium, in half. After two public hearings, city licensing and zoning guidelines are now expected to be before city leaders in early July instead of September. They will use these next few months to learn more information.

"It behooves each one of us to be totally educated and know what is going on." Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.

The city is hosting two public meetings about where dispensaries should be allowed. The first meeting will be from 3 to 5 p.m. March 26 at 333 N. Rancho. The second meeting will be from 3 to 5 p.m. April 1 at the same location.

The Clark County Commission also made some major decisions for medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated parts of the county. 

Commissioners laid out zoning regulations for dispensaries and growing operations. The next big step for the commission is deciding who gets a license to operate a marijuana business.

The county will accept business applications from April 16 through May 2. Following the application period, the commission will look at all the applications in what they are describing as a marathon meeting.

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but that law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug except to grow it themselves.

Lawmakers passed a law in 2013 that sets up a framework for distributing medical marijuana, although it allows cities and counties to impose moratoriums.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


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