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Vegas council to consider medical marijuana plan

Wednesday, June 04, 2014    

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LAS VEGAS, USA — Las Vegas is closing in on a plan for licensing medical marijuana in the city.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on a 28-page licensing plan Wednesday.

A review committee of three council members approved the plan Monday without making any changes.

Several members of that committee expressed concerns with the plan but advanced it to the full council with the understanding that changes would be made Wednesday.

Councilman Frank Hawkins told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he's concerned about the plan's restrictions on advertising and lack of a way for caretakers to pick up the drug for patients too ill to travel.

The plan includes restrictions on samples, customer reward programmes and drive-thru windows. It also bars dispensaries from paying employees with marijuana products.

In May, the council approved zoning regulations for the 12 dispensaries the city is expected to have.

A state law passed last year allows up to 40 medicinal pot dispensaries in Clark County. In addition to the dozen in Las Vegas, Henderson is expected to have five dispensaries; North Las Vegas, four; and Mesquite, one.

Nevada legalised medical marijuana in 2000, but the only way for patients to obtain the drug was to grow it themselves. Last year, state lawmakers approved and Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a law that cleared the way for dispensaries. The licensed dispensaries are expected to open early next year.

Residents and prospective dispensary owners offered suggestions and concerns at Monday's meeting, including complaints that security for dispensaries will be steep, expecting to cost about US$33,000 a year.

Karen Duddlesten, the city's business licence manager, said the plan already had cut fees by 60 per cent.

Annual licence fees would be US$75,000 for dispensaries, US$10,000 for laboratories and US$25,000 for edible products facilities. Fees for cultivation facilities would start at US$20,000 for a 5,000 square-foot space and jump US$10,000 for each additional 5,000 square feet of space.

Several others asked the city to allow for sales 24 hours a day. The plan currently would allow marijuana to be sold between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.

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