Medical Marijuana: Up to 1 million square feet sought for pot

Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere of Little Feat open the show in front of a large enthusiastic crowd Wednesday evening at Adele's.

Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere of Little Feat open the show in front of a large enthusiastic crowd Wednesday evening at Adele's.

Up to a million square feet in Nevada cultivation facility space to supply medical marijuana demand may be necessary, a state advisory subcommittee was told Wednesday.

The Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice’s subcommittee on medical pot use also was told by the state official overseeing the system that limiting cultivation facilities would require a public hearing. Chad Westom, chief of the state’s Bureau of Preparedness, Assurance, Inspection and Statistics, who also is a subcommittee member, offered the testimony in a Wednesday morning session.

Westom told fellow panel members in Las Vegas and Carson City, making a presentation and answering questions during the teleconference session, that between 600,000 to a million square feet is the amount for pot growth estimated under the system about to be rolled out in the coming months.

“That’s our projection at this point,” Westom said, noting it should be sufficient to handle Nevadans and those from other states with medical marijuana cards who visit and buy under reciprocal provisions.

“That’s not a limit,” he added.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, Clark County legislator and chairman of the panel, asked what could be done if cultivation space later is seen as too ample. Westom said it would require a public hearing first on the issue to impose a lid. Westom also said there are about 6,300 Nevada medical marijuana card holders currently, with the number increasing.

“That is growing rapidly,” he said, “as you might expect.”

Segerblom asked whether Westom’s staff could handle requests for 50,000 cards, as an example, if such demand developed. Westom said current staff couldn’t, but the opportunity to expand capability is available.

“Maybe you’re right,” Westom replied. “Maybe there will be 50,000. Our projections aren’t that high.”

A law enforcement representative on the panel asked about what would be done if one application came in for a million square foot grow facility rather than many from firms wanting to start smaller units for marijuana growth.

Westom said there wouldn’t be a state ranking system, as there would be for proposed dispensaries, but he doesn’t expect what he called a super-facility applicant.

“I just haven’t heard that there’s somebody proposing a million,” he said.

The state window for applications for medical marijuana dispensaries applications is from Aug. 5-18. After a merit-based state analysis scheduled to take 90 days, local jurisdictions allowing medical marijuana establishments will have a say about location, via zoning, as well as issuance of business licenses.

Wednesday morning’s hearing prompted public testimony from 10 in Las Vegas, but no one testified during that period at the Carson City site in the legislative building. Among those in Vegas, some were medical marijuana card holders or advocates wanting continued authority to grow medical marijuana on their own.


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