Businesses may soon be able to legally grow and distribute marijuana in Lyon County.
County commissioners in 2013 banned marijuana growth, production and sales in the county, but on Thursday Lyon County Commissioners discussed ordinance amendments regarding the licensing of marijuana establishments and the regulation of marijuana growth and cultivation in the county. The ordinances specifically pertain to the county’s unincorporated areas.
“I’m in no way in favor of use, especially recreational use,” Commissioner Ken Gray said. “The way we need to deal with it is to regulate it, and (being a) conservative Republican, tax the hell out of it.”
The pros and cons of approving the amendments are similar to the legalization of prostitution and gambling, County Manager Jeff Page said.
“It allows the county to proactively regulate that the people doing these things are doing them to the letter of the law,” he said. “The downside is we are going to have legalized marijuana in our community, which we are going to have regardless … From my perspective, not that I want to get into regulating another business, but it does provide the county a way to keep things cleaner than if it’s on its own.”
Nobody in the audience requested to speak on the matter during public comment. The board is scheduled to discuss the matter further at its Feb. 15 meeting, and a second public hearing will be held at that time.
Page said he did not have a guess as to how much revenue the county could see if it allowed marijuana sales. However, “With this (amendment), there is revenue,” he said. “Without it, we don’t have revenue.”
More than $27 million was generated in revenue the first month recreational marijuana was allowed in Nevada.
Medical marijuana was legalized in the state nearly two decades ago, and state residents approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016. The Fernley City Council in September approved a bill to allow a medical dispensary, cultivation facilities and independent lab testing in the city. The city had previously passed a 2014 ordinance prohibiting the selling of medical marijuana in the city and is still opposed to recreational sales.
Yerington City Council in October entered a five-year marijuana compact with the Yerington Paiute Tribe. The compact prohibits the city from allowing another dispensary to open in the city in exchange for the collection of revenue from products sold at the dispensary to non-tribal members. The tribe had offered the county the same compact, but the county tabled voting on the matter. At an October meeting Commissioner Gray said “It would be better off if the tribe just did what they wanted to do and keep us out of it.”
Nevada residents are currently allowed to grow up to six plants if they don’t live within a 25-mile radius of a dispensary. With dispensaries in Carson City, and Fernley possibly getting one, this means about 40 to 50 percent of Lyon County residents can grow their own plants, Chairman Bob Hastings said. Carson City in January began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in addition to medical.
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