‘Pot’ thickens: Medical marijuana zoning areas imminent in Carson City

Lee Plemel, Carson City Community Development Director, addresses members of the public and the Board of Supervisors regarding medical marijuana.

Lee Plemel, Carson City Community Development Director, addresses members of the public and the Board of Supervisors regarding medical marijuana.

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Carson City Thursday evening moved a major step toward allowing medical marijuana establishments, including two dispensaries and prospects for more grow and production facilities.

Voting unanimously for a local zoning and regulation ordinance, the Board of Supervisors gave its preliminary blessing to the concept after amending a Planning Commission recommendation to alter the areas involved and scrub the limit of two facilities for cultivation and two for production of edibles pot for medicinal purposes.

“This ordinance will forever change Carson City,” said Supervisor Jim Shirk. He voted for it after his colleagues accepted a proposal to have a night session for debate and a vote on the second and final reading, which will signal the city has declined to opt out of the system under state law. He and Supervisor John McKenna also urged complete and extra notification of anyone who might be affected by the zoning decisions.

Community Development Director Lee Plemel told them he would double check to see that notification requirements of the law have been followed precisely.

Areas for the two possible dispensaries under the ordinance approved would be on land zoned general commercial and general industrial along and near Highway 50 east of the I-580 freeway overpass, and on land zoned general commercial along and near South Carson Street to the south of Fairview Drive, Plemel said.

Cultivation, production and testing facilities could go on land zoned as general industrial properties along Highway 50 east of the freeway and in the same type of properties in the Goni Road and Arrowhead Drive areas near Carson City’s Airport.

There was limited opposition and some raised questions among those who testified, but most who appeared were either prospective applicants, their representatives or advocates of following through on the Constitutional amendment Nevada voters approved in two statewide elections in 1998 and 2000, as well as Senate Bill 374 of 2013, also known as the medical marijuana act.

Carson City’s Mark Turner, representing a group planning to apply to the state and city in the medical marijuana establishment process this year, urged less restrictive setbacks, lifting the lid on the number of grow and production facilities and moving quickly so a state application deadline can be met. The state window to apply will begin Aug. 5 and run just 10 working days, according to testimony.

Also on hand were various supporters from outside Carson City, among them Max Del Real, president of California Capitol Solutions from Sacramento, who urged action to lift the lid on suppliers’ facilities and talked of positive economic spin-offs. He said it would create jobs and bring dollars to the community, That didn’t pass muster with Mayor Robert Crowell.

“This is a medical marijuana issue; it’s not an economic development issue,” the mayor said.

Gail Jackson provided an emotional plea, saying her daughter has multiple sclerosis. needs marijuana for its medicinal value, is homebound and should have it. “Pass your zoning,” she urged.

Colleen Schiller objected to allowing any establishments near Saliman Road and Colorado Street where she lives and opposed allowing them 300 feet from residences. Bruce Kittes, who said he voted for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment 14 years ago, asked the wisdom of going ahead now due to federal law.

“My concern,” he said, “is since you have the choice to opt in or opt out, are you following federal law?” He also asked if board members were complying with federal law or relying on the state to indemnify them.”

Kathy Bartosz of Partnership Carson City, which is sponsoring a forum on the state law and city ordinance July 14, said there are a lot of what she called “muddy waters around this issue.” One she raised was whether there was a fiscal note on the ordinance to help determine costs involved.


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