Vegas OKs 26 medical marijuana dispensaries

Las Vegas’ first round of marijuana permit hearings was a marathon, not a sprint.

City Council members spent the better part of 16 hours mulling preliminary land use and licensing entitlements sought by 50 would-be medical marijuana business operators on Tuesday and Wednesday.

They approved 26 dispensaries, more than double the number set aside for the city by Nevada regulators.

It remains unclear how many of those city-qualified applicants will get the go-ahead from the state health department.

Applicants who receive both city and state credentials will be routed back to the City Council for a final, as-yet-unscheduled suitability hearing.

Those whose applications are denied in both jurisdictions will have to hope for better luck next year.

City Council members denied credentials to 11 permit applicants, citing everything from missing paperwork to questions over onsite security.

Five hybrid production and cultivation permits were tabled to a later date and five others were withdrawn at the applicants’ request.

Action on those permits almost didn’t get off the ground, thanks to a last-minute motion that aimed to put off an up-or-down vote on the city’s medical marijuana hopefuls until after Nevada regulators are expected to hand down their opinion on the applicants on Monday.

Councilman Bob Coffin’s motion to delay proceedings failed 3-3, with Mayor Carolyn Goodman abstaining. Goodman’s son Ross is involved with an application that was unanimously approved by city leaders Wednesday.

Coffin, who has warned of potential lawsuits stemming from the city’s decision to anoint hopefuls before they get the state’s blessing, said a weeklong delay would allow city leaders to approach land use and licensing approvals with an “unbiased eye.”

He was backed by Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian and Councilman Ricki Barlow. Together, the three represent all but one of the city’s 29 newly approved shop, grow house and production facility locations.

It took council members 45 minutes to finally approve the city’s first medical cannabis shop applicant, one that more than a dozen area residents stood up to oppose.

Neighbors’ misgivings were trumped by city leaders representing the west side of the valley, where Bob Beers, Stavros Anthony and Steve Ross overrode Tarkanian’s bid to deny approval for a dispensary at 3500 W. Sahara Ave.

All three later joined the councilwoman in denying shop credentials to Nuleaf, a Las Vegas-based company owned by longtime California dispensary operators with Berkeley Patients Group.

Nuleaf spokesman Bradley Mayer called the group “one of the longest-running dispensary operators in the country” and lamented the city’s decision to deny it a special-use permit without first hearing from state regulators.

“I believe waiting would have made a difference,” Mayer said. “We feel confident the state will find we are a very qualified applicant. … So yes, we were in favor of having all that information available.”

Notables approved for a city permit include restaurateur Michael Morton, downtown entrepreneur Michael Cornthwaite, developer James Hammer, former Assemblyman Mark James, political consultant David Thomas and professional poker player Phil Ivey.

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