MESQUITE, Nevada – A spirited, emotional town hall meeting in Mesquite Tuesday night drew a crowd of over 100 people discussing issues surrounding the City Council’s decision on whether or not to pass two bills that would enact city ordinances allowing and setting guidelines for facilities to grow, produce, and dispense medical marijuana and related products within Mesquite’s boundaries.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada since 2001, but it wasn’t until last year that the state legalized larger-scale facilities which has forced local municipalities to discuss their own guidelines. Some municipalities in Nevada like Boulder City have banned these facilities, others like those in the greater Las Vegas area, have welcomed them.
Read more: Medical marijuana ‘made in Mesquite’?
Mesquite has two bills on the table which some at the town hall meeting said won’t affect the town since medical marijuana is already legal and will be brought to Mesquite either way. Others vehemently disagreed, and still others found middle ground.
Several views on the issue
A woman from Mesquite who said she was taking the logical, not moral, side of the argument explained how kids could already easily get marijuana in Mesquite, let alone many other drugs like oxycodone, and methamphetamine.
“It just amazes me,” she said, “people act like if you don’t approve a dispensary, that poof! – Mesquite is snow white; no drugs, everybody’s happy, there’s no crime … and we’ll all live happily ever after. The bottom line is, anybody who wants to smoke marijuana and has the money to afford it, is smoking it now, and they’re doing it in Mesquite.”
The reasons for disagreement with the proposed bills were widespread, such as the likelihood of an up rise in greed; crime and corruption; the possibility that marijuana would become more readily available to children; the moral double-standard this could set for kids; and the possibility of more people driving under the influence.
One of the presenters at the meeting, a former Nevada law enforcement official, Frank Adams, who worked extensively with drug task forces across the state, said that other areas in the U.S. where dispensaries are legal have seen a rapid growth in pot consumption. He and several others fear that pot companies in Nevada are going to make it extremely easy to get a medical pot card which will allow recreational users to easily get it. Nevada companies are moving to make it possible to get pot without proper medical documentation, Adams said, and even without seeing a doctor in person.
Although there were many at the town hall meeting who opposed marijuana facilities in Mesquite, there were hardly any who disagreed with the position that medical marijuana was useful in treatment of some medical conditions. As medical marijuana is legal and has been for 12 years in Nevada, no matter if this ordinance is enacted in Mesquite or not, residents with a medical marijuana card will continue to be able to possesses, grow and use marijuana products under Nevada law.
A Mesquite resident stood before the mayor and City Council members and said he has Crohn’s disease and he uses medical marijuana for his survival. He’s used medicinal marijuana in Nevada and Oregon for his treatment. He will continue to use medical marijuana in Mesquite whether they pass the bills or not, he said, but he believes that Mesquite should allow marijuana facilities so that others like him can get more easily available treatment for their ailments. Medical marijuana, he said, has brought him to a place where he can finally have a good life with his family.
“Without that, I’d be sitting in bed in the fetal position, being another negative statistic.”
Former Romney director, “not some leftist hippie”
A proponent of the bills is Joe Brezny, former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, Mitt Romney’s former state director, and current director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry trade organization. He said that Mesquite is in position for a great opportunity to import jobs and export product.
“I think it’s a great thing if there’s a few dozen jobs here in a building that’s as secure as Fort Knox,” Brezny said of the council’s consideration of a grow facility in Mesquite. “Those are jobs that stay here. It’s cannabis that goes to the strip and gets sold to people in Las Vegas.”
If these bills don’t pass in Mesquite, Brezny said, he agrees that it won’t stop the war on drugs in town and patients will just continue to get medical marijuana that is not tested and not controlled. The community won’t make any money off of it, he said, and North Las Vegas businesses will inevitably set up distribution systems to Mesquite.
“I’m not some leftist hippie activist, I just think there’s a better way.”
There’s already interest in Mesquite
If these bills were to pass, there are already at least two possible vendors looking to start facilities in Mesquite, Gaye Stockman, of Mesquite Regional Business Inc., said in a presentation during the meeting. These two clients, whose names Stockman said she’d agreed to keep confidential, had approached the MRB with consideration of starting medical marijuana facilities in Mesquite.
It was by using data from these clients that the MRB was able to create an economic model, at the council’s request, to show what sort of economic impact these possible facilities would have on Mesquite. The MRB often does economic impact projections when studying the effect that any major business will have on the community.
According to the MRB’s economic impact study, if one of the two client companies were to follow through with its proposed plan to bring in facilities, then there would be as many as 132 new direct jobs and 64 secondary jobs created in Mesquite; that is, if the city allows a cultivation center, a production facility and a dispensary in town. If a company were only to build a dispensary in the community, it would supply three direct jobs, according to MRB’s projections.
Not only would jobs come, Stockman said, but the city would collect revenue.
“Within the city ordinance there is three options to collect revenue,” Stockman said, ”the licenses and fees to charge the businesses, an excise tax, and … property tax.”
Next up on the Mesquite City Council’s agenda regarding the bills is to have a public hearing on Aug. 5 – the same date the state’s application window begins (Aug. 5-18) during which businesses may apply to the state for a medical marijuana facility. During Mesquite’s public hearing on Aug. 5 the City Council will consider the medical marijuana bills, and if they pass, prospective Mesquite businesses can then start the process by applying for state registration.
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- Mesquite Bill 484 for medical marijuana facilities – zoning Mesquite Bill 485 for medical marijuana business licensing
- Mesquite Bill 485 for medical marijuana business licensing
- Nevada’s 2013 medical marijuana Senate Bill 374
- Nevada’s current medical use of marijuana laws, NRS chapter 435A
- Mesquite’s medical marijuana town hall meeting agenda
- Information packet for Mesquite’s July 29 town hall meeting
- Medical marijuana ‘made in Mesquite’? Town hall meeting
- On the EDge: Will Mesquite act or get off the pot?
- Division of Securities issues investor warning on medical marijuana offers
- Perspectives: Reconsidering medical marijuana laws
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