Pot full of problems, or merely medicine?

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For those on each side of the medical marijuana divide, a few matters of interest might be pondered going into Thursday’s meeting of Carson City’s Board of Supervisors.

The board at 2 p.m. is set to take up first reading, which is preliminary debate and action, on an ordinance that would establish land use and related local regulations involving medical pot dispensaries, grow places, production spots for edibles, and potential testing laboratories. Two of each might locate in Carson City, except for labs. The state won’t need many labs, and whether one would locate here is anybody’s guess.

It’s anybody’s guess, in fact, whether this is an exercise in ordinance-writing for something that won’t even happen, given the board has yet to vote on whether to opt in or out under state law governing medical marijuana. Many people bet the board will go for it under the state’s Constitutional and legal framework, but until board votes are counted such people are counting their pot before the water has boiled.

In other words, it’s a hot issue.

Among things to remember is that in two statewide elections, Nevadans in 1998 and 2000 approved allowing medical marijuana for those in need. But it wasn’t until 2013, with court prodding, the Legislature set up the system coming into place these days. Another factoid that might be of interest: in the 2000 approval statewide, the Carson City support amounted to about 60 percent of the vote here.

Though I have no dog in this hunt (no medical marijuana card in my wallet), I have written in the past that policing this shouldn’t be any tougher — if as tough — as overseeing alcohol dissemination and consumption. Another obvious fact, which also has appeared in this column before, is the nationwide experiment in banning alcohol via the Volstead Act was a miserable failure less than a century ago.

IBISWorld, a research report firm covering various industries, says the medical pot stores industry grew like a weed the past five years and could grow by 26 percent annually to become an $8.4 billion industry nationwide by 2019.

“Revenue is expected to grow 63.1 percent in 2014 alone, largely due to a favorable regulatory environment, a steadily aging population and an increase in per capita disposable income,” said IBISWorld to tout its recent 35-page report on the matter. “Chronic illnesses have become more prevalent as the population continues to age, driving demand for medical marijuana.”

Topsy-turvy growth elsewhere, however, doesn’t matter. What matters is sane oversight here, if medical pot comes to town, because a couple of dispensaries and a few related facilities won’t have much economic impact in Carson City.


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