Despite the fact medical marijuana growers have applied for three times the amount of growing space the state program thinks is needed in Nevada, program manager Chad Westom says it doesn’t plan to impose limits yet.
“The division does not plan to limit cultivation at this time,” he told audiences in Carson City and Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Nearly all those in attendance made it clear they oppose any limits at this point because no licensees have yet even started to grow pot here.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who authored the medical marijuana program said the law is designed to encourage competition and that includes among growers. He opposed a limit on growers at this point.
Rebecca Gasca whose firm Pistil & Stigma represents several firms seeking licensure for dispensaries, growers and producers of edible products, said the demand for product has not been met in Colorado and Washington, which have legalized pot.
She said Nevada shouldn’t impose artificial limits on growing marijuana for patients until regulators see what the actual need and the actual amount of product produced is.
“No one has guessed high on capacity,” said Joe Brezny of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association. “Everyone has guessed low.”
He said that group estimates Nevada patients will need about 141881 pounds of pot annually to serve a projected 55,000 in-state cardholders and 23,000 visitors.
He and several other speakers said if the amount of cultivation allowed is too low, it will drive patients to the black market for their medicine.
“If you put a limit and prices skyrocket, people will go to the black market for cheaper product,” said Trevor Hays whose company has applied for all three types of licenses. “The best way to keep it out of the black market is to not limit.”
There was even support for no limits at this point from two governmental spokesmen.
Jacqueline Holloway said the Clark County Commission opposed limits on growers saying there should be enough available “to support the goal that medical marijuana should be affordable to patients.”
Dean Schinhofen, chairman of the Nye County Commission, said Nye has already issued nine licenses to growers and has two greenhouse facilities on its list.
“We believe in capitalism,” he said.
The only support for limits at this point came from the Metropolitan Police Department in Las Vegas and the Nevada Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs which both worried unlimited growers would produce product that would find its way onto the black market.
Westom told the audience once dispensaries open for business, state officials will find out how much pot is needed in the state and be much better able to decide if any limits on cultivators are needed.