Recreational marijuana will probably not be available to buy in licensed retail stores in Carson City until early next year.
The Board of Supervisors on Thursday heard an ordinance establishing business licenses for recreational marijuana businesses and decided to delay issuing licenses for the point-of-sale outlets until Jan. 1.
All other types of marijuana businesses — cultivators, manufacturers and distributors — can be licensed once the ordinance goes into effect. The ordinance will be read a second time at the board’s next meeting Aug. 17 and go into effect immediately if the board votes to approve it.
The supervisors decided on the delay after several hours of public comment, most in opposition to any retail sales, but especially sales before the Nevada Department of Taxation’s permanent regulations go into effect Jan. 1.
“By making it legal it encourages people to try it. Sometimes you have to take a moral stand,” said Shelly Aldean, a member of the board of directors for the Capital City C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative and a former Carson City supervisor. “Let’s study it and see what happens over the next six months and if you’re compelled after six months, you’re elected and have the ability, but don’t rush this.”
Initially, Mayor Bob Crowell said it was a matter of law.
“Our oath of office says we comply with rules and regulations of Nevada,” said Crowell. “I think at the end of the day this is a statewide initiative.”
And Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said as long as Carson City is without its own marijuana stores, most residents can legally grow pot at home, without oversight. State law allows people to grow a limited amount of marijuana at home if the closest outlet to buy it from is at least 25 miles.
“The fact that growing now is legal creates a number of issues for me,” he said. “There’s an issue out there and we need to deal with it. We can do it today or we can deal with it in six months, but nothing will change with maybe the exception of some verbiage in the regs.”
In the end, however, the board was swayed unanimously by requests from social service providers who said they needed more time to prepare for a possible influx of marijuana in the community.
“We just want you to extend the moratorium so we can collect data because we work in prevention and want to be able to hit the ground running with our services,” said Hannah McDonald, community outreach coordinator, Partnership Carson City.
The board also heard on first reading an ordinance on zoning for marijuana businesses.
The ordinance mirrors the code for medical marijuana establishments, but added distributors, a new category of business.
The drafted ordinance allowed distribution as a conditional use in the Limited Industrial (LI) zone, primarily because liquor distributors, which can now be licensed to distribute marijuana, are allowed there already and Capitol Beverage, a large distributor, is located in an LI zone.
But during the Planning Commission meeting on July 26 and the board meeting on Thursday, residents spoke in opposition because LI backs up to residential areas.
The board moved to approve the first reading of the ordinance but removed limited industrial so distributors are now allowed as a conditional use in General Industrial and General Industrial Airport zones, assuming the ordinance passes on second reading.
The ordinance also requires marijuana retailers to be co-located with medical marijuana dispensaries. That limits Carson City to two stores because the city has decided to limit dispensaries to the two existing ones, RISE and Sierra Wellness Connection.
The supervisors also voted to raise storm water rates by 30 percent in order to cover the debt service on a 20-year general obligation bond.
That will raise monthly storm water rates for single-family home owners from $4.38 to $5.69, and commercial property rates from $31.51 to $40.96.
The bond will be used on six major storm water projects costing a total of $4.87 million. Those projects include storm drain improvements on Carson Street and in Lakeview, and work on Kings Canyon Road, which flooded during this winter’s storms.
The board also interviewed three candidates for the Planning Commission and appointed Hope Tingle for a term that expires June 2021.