Kurt Hildebrand

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May 21, 2014
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First town pans pot enterprises within its boundaries

Representatives of Nevada’s oldest settlement said that they didn’t oppose the idea of medical marijuana establishments in Douglas County, but felt they wouldn’t be a good fit for the historic town.

Genoa Town Board members heard a presentation by Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory about Nevada’s new medical marijuana law, which took effect April 1.

Intended to provide licensed medical marijuana users with a legal means to obtain the drug, the new law establishes a system of dispensaries, cultivators, producers and independent labs to supply marijuana to those with a card issued by the state.

“I didn’t see anyone pounding their shoe on the table saying there shouldn’t be any medical marijuana establishments in Douglas County,” town chairman Dave Whitgob said, summing up the board’s comments. “But we’re such a condensed community, that we don’t feel it’s the right fit. It doesn’t feel right here.”

The board also indicated they would like to see responsible zoning applied to the issue.

Douglas County’s temporary 180-day ban on establishments is in effect until Sept. 16. County commissioners could extend the temporary ban until March 2015.

Gregory said there were 129 medical marijuana cardholders in Douglas County, all of whom grow their own.

Until April 1, medical marijuana cardholders were allowed seven plants and an ounce of processed marijuana for personal use.

Since that date, they are now allowed to grow a dozen plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of processed marijuana and 2.5 ounces of edibles.

Douglas County is allowed one dispensary under state law, but is not under an obligation to approve one, Gregory said.

“The county can opt out,” she said. “If you can restrict something, you can also prohibit something.”

Those cardholders who were growing their own marijuana on July 1, 2013, will be grandfathered in. Cardholders who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary will still be able to grow their own, Gregory said. They could also live right next door to a dispensary, but if they required a particular strain, they could continue growing it.

“I’m not theoretically opposed to it, but I find it highly unlikely someone would want to do it here,” board member Brian Williams said.

Board member Greg Pace pointed out that the vast majority of cardholders lived in the Gardnerville Ranchos which would make Genoa inconvenient for them.

“It doesn’t seem appropriate to have it here so far out of the mainstream,” he said.

State law prohibits the presence of a medical marijuana enterprise near a park or church, and requires commercially or industrially zoned property.

Gregory said that because grows have to be in an enclosed, locked location, greenhouses or open fields could not be used to cultivate marijuana.

“I don’t think my neighbors would approve,” Trent Tholen said. “Perhaps we could put some sort of zoning restrictions that wouldn’t even have it allowed here.”

During a hearing on an unrelated matter on Tuesday morning, District Judge Tod Young observed that Nevada’s legal limit for marijuana of 2 nanograms would prohibit a regular medical marijuana user from driving without being under the influence.

Young said that as little as consuming marijuana once a week could result in a blood content exceeding the legal limit.

Gregory said the county plans to get input from the towns of Minden and Gardnerville next month as they prepare an ordinance.

In all, 21 states and Washington D.C. permit medical marijuana. Two states, Washington and Colorado, also have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, Gregory said.

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The Record Courier Updated May 22, 2014 04:08PM Published May 21, 2014 08:04AM Copyright 2014 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.