County Commissioners voted 4-1 during a public hearing Aug. 18 to not amend the County Code regarding the prohibition of medical marijuana establishments as a matter of land use throughout the unincorporated areas of Lincoln County.

Lyon County voted to do the same thing last month.

An earlier motion, by Commissioner Adam Katschke, to declare a six-month moratorium on the application for construction and/or operation of a medical marijuana facility within the county, was not voted on for lack of a second.

District Attorney Dan Hooge said a county resident might obtain a license for such an operation outside the county, but not within the county.

Commissioners had wrestled with the question since last spring after receiving a few emails from State Senator Pete Goicoechea of Eureka informing the Commission it needed to do something or the state would. Commissioners then scheduled a few public hearings to take comments and proposals from both sides.

Russell Tracy of Pioche appeared before Commissioners again with his desire to apply for marijuana cultivation within the county. He was seeking Commission support for his  application by the Aug. 18 filing deadline. 

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health reported receiving 370 applications for medical marijuana establishments at its Carson City office by 3 p.m. Aug. 18, two hours before the final state deadline. The state began accepting applications Aug. 5, and had received 191 by the start of business Aug. 18. Each application comes with a $5,000 nonrefundable fee. The state will announce the results of its application reviews in early November.

The Legislature in 2013 approved Assembly Bill 374 authorizing 66 dispensaries to operate in Nevada, 40 of them in Clark County. Clark County allocated itself 18, five for Henderson, 12 for Las Vegas and four for North Las Vegas. Mesquite City Council approved one and Boulder City opted out of the industry. The state didn’t set numbers for cultivation, labs or manufacturing sites.

Dispensary owners will have to pay a $30,000 fee to the state if approved for a provisional certificate.

During the public hearings at the Lincoln County Courthouse, which were not well attended, proponents said having such facilities would make it much easier for those with a real need for medical marijuana to have closer access to it, and it would eventually generate a lot of tax dollars for the County.

Opponents were basically of the opinion that it would be a determent to the County, only paving the way for any number of unforeseen problems, misuses, addictions among school kids and adults, decrease in the IQ’s of youth using marijuana, and that the money which had been anticipated by states where medical marijuana is legal, is not being realized.

In an earlier meeting, a person had commented, the only people making money on marijuana, particularly in Colorado, are the growers and distributors.

“Others around us have acted on it (Clark County),” one person said, “so it’s not very far to go and get it.”

Katschke said he favored the idea of a moratorium because of an anticipated bill in the upcoming Nevada State Assembly next spring to legalize recreational marijuana and he thinks the state may just overturn Lincoln County’s prohibition at a later time.  He also did not think the county was ready to put in all the laws and rules some of the other counties would have to do if it were permitted here. 

Tracy said he also favored a moratorium rather than a ban, because after Aug. 18, the state will not accept any further applications until June 1, 2015. “There would be no need then,” he said, “to have to do anything legal right now.”

He presented many facts and statistics about marijuana use and its alleged dangers in support of the application he was hoping to file. He also showed a video segment of a 2012 U.S. Congressional subcommittee meeting regarding efforts to legalize marijuana and change existing laws for personal use.

As Commissioners were discussing the possible prohibition, Tracy Lee, speaking during the public comment time, said Commissioners needed to reflect the views of the majority of the people of the County, “who do not want marijuana grown or distributed in the County. It’s not something we want readily in our communities. Legalizing medical marijuana is going to just open a door to eventually legalizing recreational marijuana and make that an even bigger problem in the future.”