Mesquite City Council discuss establishment of medical marijuana dispensary

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jul 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-23 01:12:14-04

MESQUITE, Nev. – Mesquite City Council members have voted to proceed with the discussion on two ordinances that could establish a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.

It’s an issue that has divided a community, and would likely be the closest medical marijuana growing facility to the Utah border.

The council voted 4-1 to advance the ordinances, with Councilman Kraig Hafen dissenting. Close to 100 people came to the city council meeting Tuesday night, and although this was just a first reading of the ordinances, dozens of people spoke out on the action.

“I think the moral, fiscal, and public safety issues point to approval for medical marijuana facilities in Mesquite,” said Mesquite resident Elaine Hurd, addressing the council during public comment. “And I urge you to move the city forward instead of backward by ultimately voting yes.”

The ordinances ended up back on the city council agenda after being tabled July 9. The following day, Councilwoman Cindi Delaney requested the ordinances come back.

“Basically I wanted to start getting the information meetings started,” Delaney said. “Because I do believe this conversation should have been started earlier.”

The Nevada state legislature formally legalized medical marijuana in the 2000, and has spent the years since passing laws to govern its use.

Mesquite is not alone in trying to navigate the new laws. But if the city allows a dispensary, they only have until August 18 to accept applications, so Delaney said time is of the essence.

“In all fairness, to everybody, people who may have inquired about putting a facility here, people who are opposed and people who are for, we need to get it done in the state’s timeframe,” Delaney said.

But opponents of the ordinances say the city council is rushing things, and worry the approval of a dispensary may set precedence toward other marijuana use.

“I wish the best to those who need the medical marijuana,” said Mesquite resident Connie Faust. “I do not want to see recreational marijuana in this community. It’s too lovely of a community.”

But city officials say the argument for a dispensary is strong, and would mean revenue to the city. They’re trying hard to keep emotion out of the discussion, and focus on the facts.

“It isn’t so much the dispensary,” said Mesquite City Mayor Allen Litman. “That seems to be the hot issue is the dispensary, it would be the grow facilities, and research facilities, which would not be open to the public, or to a medical marijuana card holder for that matter.”

Litman added Nevada laws specifically prohibit out-of-state residents from getting a medical marijuana card, or transporting the drug across state lines, so their location as a border town shouldn’t be an issue.

The approval of the ordinances means a public hearing will be held on Aug. 5, after which council members will take a final vote to proceed.

As part of the discussion process, the city is also holding a town hall meeting on July 29, where experts on both sides of the issue will answer questions.