Carson City moves forward on hemp lawsuit, policy

Carson City is working on a policy for hemp growing as it continues to fight a lawsuit brought by a cultivator who wants to grow on city open space land.

The city recently responded to an amended complaint filed by Tahoe Hemp LLC, which now brings two other plaintiffs — James Jarrard as trustee of the Jimmie Pete Jarrard Children's Trust and Nevada Division of State Lands — into the action.

The suit involves Tahoe Hemp’s plans to grow hemp on city-owned open space known as Buzzy’s Ranch. The city purchased the land from the Jarrad family in 2010 with a $2.8 million grant from the state lands division. As part of the purchase and sale agreement, the Jarrad family has the right to continue to use it or lease it for ranching and agricultural purposes as long as it is "preserved and managed in a near natural condition,” according to Carson City municipal code.

Last year, Tahoe Hemp applied for a permit to grow hemp on the property from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which required authorization from the city. The city, concerned the crop would jeopardize its state lands grant, did not provide authorization and in January Tahoe Hemp sued.

The city’s latest filing claims Jarrad breached the purchase and sale agreement by inviting Tahoe Hemp to cultivate hemp on the property and requests the court enjoin Tahoe Hemp from growing there. The city is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

At the same time, the Board of Supervisors have imposed a moratorium on hemp growing in the city.

Hemp is a legal crop and under current city code would be allowed on land zoned agriculture or indoors on land zoned general industrial. It comes from the same plant as marijuana but the plant must contain less than .3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

The Planning Commission last week began discussing a hemp policy.

“I think it could be handled on a case-by-case basis with a special use permit,” said Commissioner Jay Wiggins. “I would recommend going the special use permit route similar to marijuana.”

Another commissioner raised concerns about water.

“There is no way I want to see water coming out of the municipal supply,” said Richard Perry. “I would be in favor of something that says hemp can only be grown with surface water.”

Chair Charles Border suggested that indoor growing should be zoned the same as marijuana businesses.

“We’ve had a good discussion and I’ll come back to you in July with some options to make a recommendation to the board,” said Lee Plemel, director, Community Development.

The commission meets at July 29 at 5 p.m.


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