Carson City Assistant Planner Heather Ferris speaks to the Board of Supervisors about the new marijuana ordinance at their September 15 meeting.
photo from photography Scott Newover.
Last month, a 3-2 vote brought the first reading of the new law forward. On Thursday, moderators followed up on their previous vote for a second reading, with Stacey Giumi and Lisa Schuett voting “No” once again.
“I’m not in favor of adding two more, and I won’t vote for them,” said Jyumi.
The applicant behind the ordinance, Las Vegas-based Qualcan, previously proposed another dispensary in South Carson but could not proceed under the city code, which limited the number of retail establishments to two and required that they be co-located within existing medical marijuana establishments.
The new law expands the number of retail outlets to four and – as permitted by state law – reflects co-location requirements and allows for drive-through service.
Jyumi said he’s worried about the car service. He said it was up to the board of directors to use the code it had to regulate institutions and that it might consider making controls stronger in the future.
“If she’s going to get through this,” he said, “she should go back to this body.”
Supervisors Stan Jones and Maurice White, along with Mayor Laurie Bagwell, endorsed their earlier approval of the new law.
White said the drive-thru service will not increase customers and that the issue before the board is related to the legalization of marijuana in the past.
“It’s a different question before us today,” he said. Is it appropriate for the government to manipulate the market? I say it is not.”
White said dispensaries have “thousands of clients” and that the city can regulate them through a strict private use permit.
Jones said kids don’t buy marijuana from dispensaries. He also cited discussions he had with the Prosecutor’s Office.
“They haven’t spent five minutes on a marijuana case since it became legal in Carson,” he said.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in the Silver State in 2016. Carson City issued the first ordinance limiting establishments to two in 2017.
Schwett, who voted another no, said there was no compelling reason to revise the existing code.
Bagwell said the city could focus on drug prevention for young people while also supporting a structured environment for adults.
“We don’t always get along,” she said. “We weigh all the information that comes before us in all ways.”
Currently, Sierra Well and Rise are the only dispensaries in Carson. Rise is owned by Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries. Sierra Well was recently purchased by Verano, which is also headquartered in Chicago. Qualcan holds one of the additional state licenses for the Carson Region, while Green Thumb Industries holds the other.
Representatives from local dispensaries opposed the change in the past, saying there was not enough demand. Will Adler, who represents GTI, asked the city Thursday to expand commercially designated areas where dispensaries can be allowed. Expanding dispensaries, he said, means “expanding opportunities.”
Public opposition to the new law remained as of Thursday.
Sarah Adler spoke on behalf of resident Jenny White, whose property borders a previously proposed Qualcan Infirmary in South Carson. Adler said she was concerned about the “traffic swing.”
Jenine White testified again that those who support the new law ignore the impact on herself and her fellow residents.
The decree must be approved in two public sessions before it can be adopted into law. The new law will take effect on October 1.
In other procedures:
Supervisors voted four to one to begin the competitive bidding process for the city’s new homelessness plan.
White was the only vote against approving the LOI that would start the process. He said he did not want to spend money from the Indigent Accident Fund in the future. He expressed concerns that project costs were changing, or “project creep.”
Currently, about $1.1 million in US Bailout Act funding can be awarded to interested organizations, though supervisors have set specific LOI amounts in the hope that proposals will come in lower than previous estimates. Interested organizations should include plan details and project descriptions with their letter of intent grant @carson.org By 4 pm. October 14. If an organization is determined to be eligible, it will receive a larger application. An application review working group is scheduled for December.
The city’s plan uses the funding for temporary housing for homeless individuals. Accommodation – whether rental units or modular construction – will bring a certain level of commitment from participants in the transition to independent living. The Carson City Housing Plan, which is led by a broad coalition of community members, calls for “comprehensive services” such as medical assistance and life skills training to help individuals settle down and thrive.
According to Carson City Health and Human Services, there are 69 homeless individuals in the capital. This number comes from an official count in February and could be higher.
“There is no one size fits all,” Schwett said. “The goal and spirit of this project is to meet the needs of this community.”
The total funding available is approximately $4.4 million, which could cover four years of the new program. The current grant process focuses on only the first two years with ARPA funding.