In split vote, city of Winnemucca OKs legal marijuana businesses

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. — After over five months of deliberations, the Winnemucca City Council last week formally passed two ordinances that will allow state-licensed marijuana facilities to set up shop in properly zoned areas within city limits. 

Ordinance 825 establishes a zoning district reclassification to allow marijuana in select zoning districts, specifically the WMC 17.81 G-C General Commercial district and the WMC 17.87 M-1 Industrial District.

Marijuana establishments are prohibited in all other zoning districts within the incorporated area of the city of Winnemucca.

Ordinance 826 establishes a new chapter to the Winnemucca Municipal Code, providing licensing and regulatory requirements for marijuana establishments, including the fees for the application and licensing of marijuana establishment licensees.

Both ordinances will take effect 20 calendar days after being posted for public notice in the legal notices of the newspaper, tentatively Oct. 11, 2019.

Facilities must be opened and operated by an entity that holds a state cultivation or dispensary license, for which there are two that have been issued in Humboldt County.

The Winnemucca Indian Colony has expressed intent to open a dispensary and possibly a cultivation facility on its own land, for which they do not require a license.

The vote, however, was not unanimous; city council members Paige Brooks and Mike Owens have expressed opposition for allowing marijuana facilities within the city from initial talks, and that opposition continued through to the votes on Sept. 17 to pass the ordinances in a 3-2 vote with both opposing.

“The decision we make today moves us to where we can't undo it and I do not think it's something our community needs. I think that this is not something we need in our community ever,” said Owens. “I'm not saying you cannot get medical marijuana, you can, you can go to Reno and Lovelock for it, and the findings in Colorado show that they're still growing it even though it's legalized …

"When there's a bigger supply of it, it will hit our schools. We do not have the resources in our community to handle the amount of blowback when this gets on our streets.”

Council members Jim Billingsley, Vince Mendiola and Theresa Mavity agreed that after extensive research and discussions on the matter, that it's better to stay ahead of the game with regulation and ordinances than to allow tribe facilities to dominate the market where there is little to no local law enforcement jurisdiction. 

“This is not something we haphazardly decided to do … If the colony should have it, we will have no regulation, that's one of the main reasons I'm in favor of it,” said Billingsley. “Before, when we talked about it, it wasn't legal in the state of Nevada; it's a whole new ballgame now. I'm not a marijuana advocate at all, but I think we need to approach it in a manner to be responsible about it and control and regulate it.”

Mendiola and Mavity echoed Billingsley's sentiments and said that although they are personally not fans of marijuana, they would rather have as much ability to regulate and control it as possible rather than all facilities be located within the colony which is sovereign land. 

“Although I'm not a big lover of marijuana — that isn't what it's ever been about for me  — but when we take on this job, two of our priorities are public safety and infrastructure and I do think that having control and regulation over what is coming is the best interest of public safety for our citizens,” said Mavity. “I don't think it's going away and like Vince and Jim said, and we all know, it's coming one way or another so it is my preference that we take this effort and this time to regulate it and make it as safe as possible when it's here.”

Ordinance number 826 states that it is the duty of the chief of police to inspect or cause to be inspected each premises where marijuana is cultivated, produced, tested or dispensed as well as verify employee registration and ensure all other provisions are met. 

It also states in the code that every official and police officer of the city shall have access to every part of the premises for which a marijuana establishment license is issued at any time when such establishment is open for the transaction of business and at all reasonable times, or without notice, to ensure compliance with the standards and regulations for business licenses, safety, health and sanitation.

License fees have been set as follows: $5,000 per calendar year for any medical marijuana cultivation facility, $5,000 per calendar year for any medical marijuana production facility, $10,000 per calendar year for any medical marijuana dispensary.

For any marijuana cultivation facility, marijuana product manufacturing facility or retail marijuana dispensary which holds a state license, there is an initial one-time application fee of $30,000 and a fee of $15,000 per calendar year, or any portion of a calendar year, plus an additional fee equal to three percent of the gross receipts for the immediately preceding quarter, to be remitted quarterly.

For a marijuana distributor that holds a state-issued licensed, there is an initial one-time fee of $20,000 and a fee of $10,000 per calendar year, or any portion of a calendar year, plus an additional fee equal to three percent of the gross receipts for the immediately preceding quarter to be remitted quarterly.

Nevada law provides that marijuana establishments must comply with all local government ordinances and rules pertaining to zoning, land use and the city may make and enforce within its boundaries all local, police, sanitary, zoning and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.

Winnemucca City Attorney Kent Maher said the city is currently not entering into any compact with the Winnemucca Indian Colony.


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