Medical pot zoning ideas sent to board

Medical marijuana establishments could go in commercial or industrial zoning areas if Carson City decides to allow cannabis for those authorized to buy it.

That was the result of a 5-2 Planning Commission decision Wednesday evening after more than 20 testified against medical marijuana and a half dozen supported it. The result wasn’t necessarily a pleasant pill for some commission members to swallow, with even some in the majority indicating the city opting out would be best. That, however, is up to the Board of Supervisors later. Chairman George Wendell viewed the process as backward.

“It’s like the cart’s before the horse,” he said, a sentiment with which some in the audience and on the commission agreed. The city’s governing board, however, had instructed staff to draft a possible ordinance on zoning and other oversight matters and get a commission recommendation should it be needed after any opt in or out decision is made.

Community Development Director Lee Plemel agreed.

“I think it’s appropriate to put that on the record,” he said, noting the commission was acting on zoning and not policy.

Plemel’s presentation on the ordinance would allow dispensaries in general commercial, grow facilities, edible pot production firms or testing labs in general, light or airport industrial zoning areas. The commission modified it some, seeking larger buffers in their recommendation that goes to the board June 19.

The commission called for buffers of 1,000 feet not only for schools, which state law requires, but also for churches and community facilities. The original draft had called for 300 feet buffers for them, a distance retained only in the cases of residences.

State law, if the city opts in, would authorize two dispensaries. The ordinance also would allow two grow facilities, two edible production plants, but designated no number on testing labs. Plemel said the idea is there will be fewer of them in the state anyway.

People opposed were vociferous and passionate, many saying they didn’t want medical marijuana anywhere in the community. Several spoke of property values plummeting, prospects for higher crime, and said citizens should be consulted before they opt in or out of a decision. “I think this is a colossal waste of time and money,” said Colleen Schiller, who lives on Colorado Street and fears an establishment could go nearby.

“I believe this is just a train wreck waiting to happen,” said Robert Bledsaw, who lives in the Lompa Lane area.

Steve Knight, superintendent of Silver State Charter Schools, argued for an opt out or, barring that, a 2,000 foot buffer for schools and other facilities.

Proponents, although outnumbered, said most of the opponents were reacting due to reports from other states such as nearby California.

Mark Turner, who intends to apply to open an establishment, said cancer and end-of-life patients deserve access to marijuana.

“A good deal of what you’ve heard here tonight is based on fear,” he said.

Rebecca Gasca said opposing testimony was based on misconceptions, claiming crime would go down and property values up. She said state regulations are tight in Nevada, while California’s state oversight isn’t.


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