With renewed support from law enforcement and social services representatives, county commissioners Thursday unanimously imposed a moratorium on medical marijuana establishments.
The board adopted an ordinance that imposes a 180-day temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries while officials evaluate legal considerations, impacts on county financial resources and staff, conformance with the master plan and impact on the quality of life.
Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory advised commissioners they are free to rescind the moratorium any time, and can extend the measure for another six months.
Multiple Nevada counties have imposed the moratorium following the passage of Senate Bill 374 that allows medical marijuana establishments for the first time to be legal within the state.
Based on population, Douglas County has the potential for one dispensary.
Sheriff’s Capt. John Milby repeated his request that Douglas County impose the moratorium.
“I strongly encourage the board to adopt a temporary moratorium until you can gauge the effect,” Milby said.
He addressed the board Feb. 6 at the first reading of the measure.
As he did last month, Scott Shick, Douglas County chief of juvenile services, implored the board to opt out of the program.
“Why bring more (drug) exposure to our community?” he asked. “You have the authority to opt out. Let’s keep it out of Douglas County.”
Gregory explained the moratorium maintains the status quo for users of medical marijuana. She told the board it is not a final decision on allowing or prohibiting medical marijuana establishments, nor does it ban current use of medical marijuana.
She said while the moratorium is in place, the county is free to implement whatever codes and permits that need to be in place.
“You would want to put those in place prior to lifting the moratorium,” she said.
Lobbyist Rebecca Gasca said she was neutral on the moratorium and recommended the board study the issue thoroughly.
“There are a variety of approaches,” she said.
Gasca cited statistics where use among teenagers declined in areas where medical marijuana dispensaries were approved.
The board also took action Thursday to amend county code to permit processing and production of craft foods or alcoholic beverages, including craft distilleries or brew pubs.
The ordinance allows for distribution of products to customers on site, or to retailers and wholesalers.
Adoption of the amendment clears the way for a craft distillery inside the old Minden mill.
Businessman Christopher Bently, who is developing the project, thanked the board.
“I really want to thank commissioners for their support and for making me feel welcome,” Bently said. “This is a large endeavor. I am half-way through renovation of the Farmers Bank Building which is ground zero not just for revitalization of the downtown, but all of Minden.”
Bently also praised County Manager Steve Mokrohisky for his help.
Mokrohisky has accepted a position as Lane County (Ore.) administrator.
“We’re going to miss you,” Bently said.