With two of the five members of the Lincoln County Commission Board absent, acting chairman Jared Brackenbury decided to table any decision on the marijuana ordinance moratorium until the Feb. 4 meeting.
Commissioners Varlin Higbee and Kevin Phillips were absent from the Jan. 22 meeting.
However, the other members of the board, Bevin Lister, Brackenbury, and Nathan Katschke, did hear comments from those in attendance for possible licensing, zoning, and regulating of marijuana establishments in the county.
A representative from Lone Mountain Partners LLC, a company from Illinois which was recently awarded a license to grow, sell, and distribute marijuana in Nevada, came to the meeting to see what the board’s intent was since the moratorium expired last July.
Lone Mountain LLC is present in 10 states and has dispensary licenses in 11 of the 17 Nevada counties, including Lincoln, but not Nye County.
The representative stated that he believes the cultivating and selling legalized marijuana “can be an economic boon to communities where the facilities are located. In other places, we have helped with law enforcement vehicles, parks, roads or other profits going back to the community.”
At present, the company has a production and dispensary facility of about 800 square feet located on the south side of Las Vegas, near highway 215 and Russell, and a nearby cultivation farm on about 10 acres. The representative invited the commission board to make a visit to the facility at their convenience.
District Attorney Dylan Frehner reported the county’s Jan. 2018 moratorium, for 180 days, has now expired and was not extended by resolution.
He said he did not think passing another resolution would be able to extend the moratorium for another 180 days. “You would have to create another ordinance of some type.”
City of Caliente Mayor Victor Jones said licenses for three cultivation sites in Caliente have been awarded. The city decided, however, that any marijuana establishment has to be two miles outside of the city and will pay established zoning and licensing fees in addition to what the state of Nevada will assess.
County building and planning director Cory Lytle said if establishments are allowed in Lincoln County, “We would put it through the zoning process on the planning board and possibly the commission board. The reason is there is no explicit zoning code for unincorporated in the county that has specific allowances for allows for marijuana production. It will depend on how the county commissioners set that up.”
Brackenbury said it was his understanding that approval could be given to growing marijuana in the county, without allowing growers to dispense it here. Conversely, a dispensary might be approved, but not the growing of marijuana.
In concluding the discussions, Frehner said that if Lincoln County seeks to make the marijuana moratorium permanent, “I think you would have quite a legal challenge because you’re stepping on what the state has already approved. Counties do have the right to set up statutes for zoning as to where it will go in the county and the license structure, but to flat out say it is not allowed here, I think there will be legal battle.”
Another moratorium for research purposes would probably not be an issue, Frehner said, “but how long that can extend out, I don’t know.”
He said it was his understanding that “the state will not issue an ultimate license until you have approval from the local jurisdiction.”
In comments from the public, Tracy Lee of Panaca said the issue of not having marijuana cultivation and dispensing in Lincoln County was rejected by voters in the 2016 election. “People who live here are not too wild about it.”
The vote total in that election was 695 Yes, 1420 No.
Lee suggested the issue be taken to town hall meetings around the county “and see if attitudes have changed. It would be very prudent to understand this as a political issue regardless of the tax revenue benefits.”
Brackenbury said he also feels “We need to see where the whole county lies on this matter.”