While county commissioners wrestle with a new ordinance aimed at creating rules for commercial growing, processing and dispensing of legalized marijuana in Lincoln County, two companies have joined forces to build a marijuana refinery in the county.

A Feb. 19 press release stated Union Cannabis Group (UCG) and Clover Creek Cultivation, LLC have formed a partnership to build a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Caliente, with the hope that “the Clover Creek facility will become a major player in the Nevada marijuana market.”

The statement notes the facility will produce extract oils that are refined on-site in a 20,000 square foot lab. Flowers for the oils will also be grown on-site in light deprivation greenhouses. The cultivation side of the project is projected to increase to 267,000 square feet after four years of operation.

Caliente mayor Victor Jones said he had not talked with Clover Creek, but understood the facility is to be located between Panaca and Caliente, on the outskirts of town near Carrigan Road.

Brandon Burkhardt, owner of Clover Creek, LLC, was quoted in the press release as saying, “Our team consists of large-scale agriculture producers, horticulturists and cannabis cultivators. This mixture of a team is vital for sustainability in the cannabis industry and the consistency and quality of the product we produce.”

UCG is responsible for the design of the manufacturing facility, equipment, specification, product formulation and project budgeting. “We are excited to partner with Clover Creek and to bring our legal recreational cannabis manufacturing expertise to the table,” said Sushana Parikh, UCG Corporate Executive Officer. “Clover Creek is composed of a strong group of business minds and we are proud to join the team.”

The press release also noted that “Nevada brings a unique playing field to the cannabis world based on the tourism draw from Las Vegas.”

Derek Thiel of UCG said, “This will make Nevada one of the strongest cannabis markets in the country, with Clover Creek at the forefront. This facility will undoubtedly set the benchmark for quality cannabis in Nevada.”

The city of Caliente has already issued licenses for growing and processing of marijuana within the city limits.

At their March 4 meeting, county commissioners are expected to have a first reading of an ordinance dealing with approving or denying license requests for marijuana facilities elsewhere in the county.

Since the previous moratorium on marijuana establishments within Lincoln County expired in June 2018 and was not renewed, Commissioner Bevin Lister said the board should not deny or approve a license request “without having protocol that would protect us from liability. If we don’t have any rules to approve or deny, we should wait until we have those rules.”

Former Caliente mayor and current commission member Kevin Phillips said he feels having such a facility as UCG in Caliente may well create unforeseen problems of law enforcement that would fall to the county, not the city, to have to deal with.

“What bothers me,” he said, “is the city’s invitations will likely bring with it a certain crowd that, in my opinion, is kind of onerous. That is evident in arrests that have already been made by Lincoln County officers of some who have come here with the thought of finding work at one of the grow facilities. Any law enforcement, medical, incarceration and/or other expenses incurred in dealing with the person falls upon the county, not Caliente, and as a Caliente resident, I don’t appreciate that at all.”

Sheriff Kerry Lee said “Yes” when asked if the county will be responsible for the expenses incurred if an employee at the UCG/Clover Creek facility is charged with a felony. “But it would be the same for anyone else charged with a felony and having to appear in Meadow Valley Justice Court. That is just a risk you run with bringing in any kind of new industry.”

Lee said it was his understanding employees of the marijuana facility will have to go through company-administered “fingerprinting and background checks run through the fingerprint process, which will hopefully be screening out some of these possible problems.”

He said the issue is “something Caliente and the county are going to have to talk about and negotiate. Caliente disbanded their court some time ago and don’t even have a court now to deal with such things.”