Sheriff voices concerns over pot confidentiality

Steve Gilbert, state medical marijuana program manager speaks at a community forum on marijuana dispensaries Monday night.

Steve Gilbert, state medical marijuana program manager speaks at a community forum on marijuana dispensaries Monday night.

Sheriff Ken Furlong challenged state officials Monday to cooperate with local law enforcement rather than keep information on the medical marijuana system cloaked.

During a Carson City Community Center forum on state and local laws and regulations regarding medical marijuana cardholders and establishments, he expressed concern that state officials wouldn’t or couldn’t say how many cardholders there are in his jurisdiction. He was speaking during a discussion regarding impact of the new medical pot distribution system on the community and his law enforcement decisions.

“What else will you not tell us?” said Furlong.

“I don’t know what other information would be needed,” said Marla McDade Williams, former deputy administrator at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, making that comment during part of her longer reply to his question. She said if local jurisdictions pass ordinances guaranteeing the same type of confidentiality required in state law, then pertinent information can be shared.

For example, there was talk of providing information on zip codes of card holders.

Furlong after the two-hour forum also talked with Chad Westom, Nevada Division of Public Health bureau chief of the medical marijuana and other health programs, who said the information was confidential by state law as interpreted by the state attorney general’s office. He also said that likely would be addressed in the 2015 Legislature.

Earlier in the forum sponsored by Partnership Carson City and Sierra Nevada Forums, the state officials on the five-member panel said there were 6,430 card holders and 342 caregivers in the system as of last Friday. Of the 6,430 in the state system, there are 4635 in Clark County, 749 in Washoe County and 1,046 in the rest of the state.

Barry Smith, moderator and Nevada Press Association executive director, during the question-answer session disagreed with the state officials when they said confidentiality meant they couldn’t disclose the number in any given county but Washoe or Clark, where Reno and Las Vegas are located. He said that wouldn’t be a violation of any card holders’ guarantee of confidentiality.

The forum, which covered a range of matters such as Carson City’s local ordinance and how the state’s new medical marijuana establishment system works, focused on questions about the distribution system is being rolled out this year and next. About 90 people attended the forum.

Previously, the law operated with card holders being able to grow their own pot for medicinal purposes, but the 2013 Legislature legalized dispensaries, cultivation and production facilities, and labs for testing as commercial enterprises. Carson City in effect opted into the system when it approved local zoning for such establishments.

An Aug. 5-18 window for state applications will be followed by local action now that the Board of Supervisors has adopted zoning restricting two dispensaries to general commercial or industrial areas, the other establishments to just general industrial locations. Community Development Director Lee Plemel and Planning Manager Susan Dorr Pansky said the next steps are special use permits and business licenses, with a November target for possible decisions.

They said the permit applications would require a $2,450 fee, the same as for other SUP applications, but city government is still working on the business license application fee level for the establishments.


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