Recreational marijuana sales in Mesquite will start July 1

Neal Tomlinson, an attorney representing Deep Roots Harvest marijuana facility in Mesquite, testified on behalf of starting recreational marijuana sales beginning July 1 in the city. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Saying the State of Nevada “has done all the right things and the company [Deep Roots Harvest] is doing all the right things,” Mesquite City Councilman Rich Green added that “as a pro-business councilman, I’m embarrassed this is on the agenda.”

At issue was whether Deep Roots, Mesquite’s only medical marijuana grow, production and dispensary facility, could begin selling recreational marijuana on July 1.

Councilman David Ballweg had placed a resolution on the council’s agenda for its Tuesday, June 27 meeting that would impose a moratorium on the sales of recreational marijuana until such time as the city council approved ordinances related to the sales no later than 90 calendar days after the state issued its regulations.

Ballweg argued that without proper ordinances in place the city had no authority to collect fees or taxes associated with the recreational sales like it has with medical marijuana. Without those ordinances, Ballweg said “we are ignoring the basic concepts of oversight into the sale and control of marijuana.”

Councilman Brian Wursten said “I too am very opposed to recreational marijuana. I did ask to wait until rules were in place. But it’s here. We voted to allow it. It’s going to stay. But I am pro-business and I’m having a hard time saying no to recreational marijuana sales when the rest of the state is. We can still make rules and regulations when we get information from the state.”

Councilman George Rapson called the resolution a “smoke screen. It’s a delay tactic. But it’s legal in the state. The alternative is to have no sales and having it delivered from Las Vegas. We get no tax revenue from it.”

Citing the resolution’s language that says there is a lack of zoning allowing recreational marijuana sales, Rapson read a letter written by city officials to the state saying that Deep Roots Harvest is in compliance with all zoning requirements in the city but under medical marijuana laws. He added that the council can create and approve regulations and ordinances within a month that will address taxation and fee issues.

Neal Tomlinson, regulatory attorney for Deep Roots Harvest, addressed the council saying that zoning requirements for recreational marijuana will be exactly the same as those for medical cannabis. “Deep Roots has satisfied all the zoning requirements. The city verified it. This resolution [barring legal sales] will encourage a black market in marijuana sales. Law enforcement wants to allow regulated sales in order to avoid sales on the black market.”

Previously, Keith Capurro, Deep Roots CEO, said his company has paid $370,000 in fees and taxes and spent $10 million in capital improvements since 2015. He said the company just hired 20 new employees to handle the expected workload from recreational sales bringing the total workforce to 70 employees with $2.5 million in payroll.

However, Capurro said that his company had sustained a loss of $400,000 in the last 18 months because of increased competition from other growers and dispensaries in the state. To deprive his company of recreational sales, Capurro said, would cripple his business and deprive the city of revenues.

Tomlinson told the council on Tuesday that Deep Roots has complied with every request the city has made to it and it would be unfair to not allow recreational sales to begin July 1.

“If we keep pushing this down the road, Deep Roots will go out of business,” Rapson said.

Ballweg said he was upholding his fiduciary responsibilities with the resolution and that it would be a terrible precedent to allow recreational sales without proper ordinances. “This is not a smoke screen. The state hasn’t worked quickly enough for the city to put ordinances in place by July 1.”

Bob Sweetin, city attorney, said “the industry is very well regulated. The problem is we don’t have an ordinance that will allow us to impose any sort of fees on Deep Roots.” Sweetin clarified that the city cannot collect fees and taxes without ordinances and cannot retroactively collect them once the rules are adopted.

Sweetin said the state laws allow the city to collect fees but “did not pass the fees for the city.”

The state published its regulations on June 26 and allows the city to collect a three percent fee on sales.

Several of the councilmen agreed that they were okay without collecting fees for approximately one month until the proper ordinances and regulations could be put in place. But “Deep Roots should not be punished.” Rapson said.

Ballweg made a motion to approve the resolution but it died for lack of a second. Therefore, it was in essence a 1-4 vote against the resolution. That opens the door for recreational marijuana sales to begin on July 1 in Mesquite.

Wursten said after the meeting he did not second the motion as many people expected because “while I agree with Dave [Ballweg] that we do need to have the regulations in place, I think it would have hurt our city to not allow our dispensary to take care of this. People are going to be flocking into Nevada this weekend. I prefer they get the product here rather than Las Vegas. It wouldn’t matter. The regulations are going to pass in a couple of weeks so let’s do it now. My action was strictly from a business point-of-view.”

Comments

  1. Having Mesquite being able to sell recreational marijuana is a smart move. With all the visitors and people driving through, Mesquite will be able to provide a legal product and soon collect revenue. It’s time to be pro-business and reap the benefits. Arizona will join the recreational marijuana business soon and Mesquite may as well have an established vendor now.

  2. Carol McIntosh says:

    I suspect that the real issue here is the “moral” objections of certain councilmen, rather than a real objection of any kind. Government cannot regulate morality and I believe those objecting also object to marijuana in any form, period. If the laws have been followed, and appears that they have, then stop trying to impose your morals on a law abiding business.

  3. Connie Foust says:

    This would all be okay if the City Council would have kept it’s word to the citizen’s of Mesquite who are opposed to sales of recreational marijuana. They promised to bring it up to a vote in the city and then chose not to do that. They cited costs, but could have used votes from the previous election which showed this district voted down sales of recreational marijuana.

    It’s all about the money in the city coffers that is greatly needed because of negotiating bad deals with unions.

    I have no faith in any one on the city council other than Mr. Ballweg, who knows the entire history of this fight for our civil society in Mesquite.

    I do give a hoot how much Deep Roots lost in the past year. It’s a risk for everyone in this community to go into business as can be shown by the number of vacant spaces all over the city.

    A person is only as good as their word and the council has proven they need to be replaced with people we can believe in and trust they will keep their word.

    • Teri Nehrenz says:

      Connie,
      Mr. Ballweg cited that he had a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Mesquite, he violated that responsibility when he voted to terminate the employment of a highly qualified city employee without cause BEFORE the results of an independent investigation came back. It is highly irresponsible to order the investigation, pay for it and reach the decision before you have all the facts and results. Mr. Ballweg did not act alone, he had the support of two other council members who failed then but maybe got back on track with their silence on this motion. You bet it’s now their fiscal responsibility to gain as much capital as the city is able to, for the city will surly pay dearly for their blunder. Their fiscal responsibility is now to cover their fiduciary butts; smart move on the part of the other two members.
      Further more, marijuana is a fact of life and harmless. Going further, it’s beneficial to the environment (Hemp is one of the most sustainable and completely usable crops ever), to the medical field and for those seeking to use it for recreation. It has far more health benefits than a glass of red wine and people will accept drinking as if it were nothing. Truth be told, something as innocent as wine has killed more people than marijuana ever has or will via alcoholism or drunk driving. There are NONE, Zero, NADA, no marijuana related deaths on record. The “impairment” from marijuana is nothing like it is with alcohol. I would be willing to publicly put that to every test you could imagine. I’d go shot for hit with anyone and never get even close to being as impaired with the pot as they get with the shot. Do you drink? Allow us our bit of recreation as well, the effects are certainly no worse and I don’t have to worry about cirrhosis.

      If you don’t support the regulated, legal sale of marijuana then you must support the illegal sale if it because it’s not going to stop whether it’s sold by Deep Roots or not; it WILL be sold illegally because the police, by state law, can’t ask questions. Is that what you want for your community, for the criminals to win? You and Mr. Ballweg certainly seem to want to give them their ammunition.

    • Anna Delgado says:

      Ms Foust,

      Are you saying we DON’T have a civil society now in Mesquite? I remember you supporting the armed militia in town a few years back. Is smoking a joint of marijuana worse that having gun toting mentals roaming our streets? Your history destroys your arguement.

    • Debbie Ryan says:

      If this would have been alcohol or white sugar, that damages the body more, would you have the same comment. Grew up with it. I try not to drink or eat sugar, because my house is a temple. If I want to smoke a little pot instead of eat sugar and become a diabetic or obese. Take a chance and ruin my liver who are you to say no. I’m 64 year old women and am a retired CEO of a company. I am resident of Mesquite who will run into Vegas 1 day a month because that’s my legal right. Your argument might be that it leads to other drugs. Worse and more disgusting then Alcoholism, Liver rot, Pancreatic problems, Diabetic.

  4. Lee Harper says:

    Better get on the band wagon or they will drive rite on thru to Vegas.

  5. Martin Locke says:

    A speaker at the council meeting correctly told Ballweg he was using his position as a personal vendetta against Deep Roots Medical. Ballweg’s arguement that it would be a terrible,horrible precedent to allow the business to proceed ignores the fact the it will bring hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to our city. It is hard to figure out why Ballweg would propose such an insane ordinance unless he has undisclosed ulterior motives. Either way, it certainly was a boneheaded move. Next time, think of us taxpayers, Mr Ballweg.

  6. Steve Clutterham says:

    Thanks Teri, your first paragraph is pretty much exactly what I said at the meeting last night. We voted these men In to make intelligent decisions fro the city and help us save money, not to cost us money based on their bad decisions. Thanks to the rest of the council for not even dignifying his ridiculous proposal with even so much as a second, much less an actual vote. First time I’ve ever seen this. Thank you gentlemen for making a wise decision based on common sense instead of personal beliefs and ideals.

  7. Anna Delgado says:

    I am embarrassed by Mr Ballweg trying to convince people he was worried more about his fiduciary responsibility that letting a multi million dollar business operate in Mesquite. Really, Ballweg? You think people are stupid enough in Mesquite to believe that?

    Just admit you don’t want marijuana in town and YOU don’t like it. The “fiduciary responsibility” excuse was a rather stupid smoke screen that nobody believed. Add that to your inane thoughts on Gold Butte and I am embarrassed you are on the city council.

  8. Debbie Forakis says:

    Ballweg enjoys “flexing his muscle” just like he does on the Canyon Crest HOA. With his positions of power, he torments individuals and businesses alike to the detriment of the community. It is a shame that he now gets to do it at the city level.

    Thank you to the remaining City Council for voting correctly.

  9. Laura Bart says:

    Clearly, Mr. Ballweg would be much more comfortable residing up in Salt Lake City. I’ll organize the moving party.

  10. Mitch Clark says:

    I looked at the price menu right before I left to go to Deep Roots on July 1. They advertised top shelf product for $330 an ounce which needless to say is a pretty steep price. However, after waiting in line for two hours in 105* heat I was allowed to view their “new” prices. So, instead of paying $330 which they had advertised, it was now $375 an ounce. WHAT!!??? The budtender said it now was $375 an ounce, but Deep Roots was advertising prices that didn’t include any tax. So, he said, an ounce was well in excess of $400!!! The building is nice, the employees are nice…but this business is guaranteed to fail because you are able to buy an ounce via the black market for $300 an ounce that is as good or better than anything Deep Roots has to offer. No one in their right mind is going to pay these prices. I just don’t see Deep Roots succeeding and although I will never be a customer I wish them the best of luck because for the ultra-rich this could be a good fit.

    • Steve Clutterham says:

      Really? You are willing to risk getting arrested to save a few dollars by buying inferior quality pot that came from who knows where and has who knows what in it? Yes, legally grown and sold marijuana will cost more. Much of it is in taxes and local fees. Have you ever bothered to read the labels and see how much you are paying in taxes and fees for cigarettes and gasoline? Deep Roots Harvest fail? I seriously doubt it. Their product is being sold all over the state and country.

      • Mitch Clark says:

        Steve,

        How can I get arrested? Legally, the police can’t even ask me where I bought it. So the chances of getting arrested are nil.

        Secondly (I have tried both) the black market offers a better quality product than Deep Roots does, even in spite of it’s much lower price. I have been buying from the black market for the past 48 years and guess what? I’m still alive!!

        Thirdly, I would not exactly call the difference between Deep Roots ($511 an ounce for top shelf WHICH NO ONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY CHARGES vs. $300 on the black market as being “a few dollars”.

        Because Deep Roots has to charge 36.25% in taxes, yes they will fail. But it’s not their fault, really. The deck is stacked against them and they will not be able to counteract the greed of Nevada. I may very well be wrong on this but my MBA says that I’m not.

Speak Your Mind

*