Pot of gold? Rush for marijuana dispensaries starts | nnbw.com

Pot of gold? Rush for marijuana dispensaries starts

John Seelmeyer

The gold-rush fever that’s surrounded the medical marijuana business in Las Vegas is beginning to stir in northern Nevada as well, says a consultant to folks who will be seeking one of the 66 licenses authorized by state law.

But the state law that authorizes dispensaries includes a Catch-22 that’s challenging some marijuana entrepreneurs, says Adam Bierman, president of The MedMen of Culver City, Calif.

On one hand, Nevada law requires that license holders demonstrate that they are upstanding citizens experienced in business, can tap liquid assets of at least $250,000 and control the real estate where they plan to operate.

At the same time, state officials will be looking for applicants with experience in the medical marijuana business — a business that hasn’t been legal in Nevada.

“If you have any background in marijuana, you have a criminal background,” says Bierman. “If you have the experience, you’re probably not going to get the license.”

But some business people in Reno and Carson City are beginning to pursue license applications anyway.

“We’re working with clients in northern Nevada,” says Bierman. “It’s starting to happen up there.”

State law allows a single medical marijuana dispensary in each of the state’s 14 rural counties, 10 dispensaries in Washoe County, two in Carson City and 40 in Clark County.

The law also allows enough marijuana-growing operations to support the medical dispensaries.

Potential owners of medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas are elbowing their way into position for licenses, bidding up the prices of real estate that meets the law’s stringent standards for locations of dispensaries.

“It’s in crazy mode,” Bierman says. “Las Vegas seems to be four to six months ahead of northern Nevada.”

The MedMen has been encouraging potential licensees to get moving, both because workable real estate is limited and because the state’s application and approval process is complex.

Further complicating the issue for some entrepreneurs and landlords is this: While the state allows medical marijuana dispensaries, the use of marijuana continues to be a criminal offense under federal law.

Bierman launched The MedMen’s consulting services a couple of years ago after Arizona opened the door to medical marijuana dispensaries. Along with advice on license approvals, his company provides business-consulting services — interior design, staffing, marketing and the like — for owners of medical-marijuana dispensaries.