The normally quiet city council agenda technical review meeting on July 1 turned into a forum for several citizens opposed to a proposed city ordinance to allow medical marijuana facilities in Mesquite.
Public comment started with Mesquite businessman Dave Ballweg objecting to the procedure followed by the council saying “it appeared we were going to have some more public meetings,” on medical marijuana and “all of a sudden we have ordinances in front of us.”
Ballweg also said “This is one of the most profound decisions that the city will ever make,” and that Mesquite shouldn’t consider adopting medical marijuana ordinances just because Las Vegas or Clark County did.
Connie Foust, president of the Virgin Valley Tea Party, told the council that “many of my membership are gone north for the summer,” and as tax-paying citizens of Mesquite they are opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. She also said that the argument that people would grow their own marijuana if there isn’t a dispensary is a “red herring.”
Mesquite resident Carol Ulen said that as a retired medical professional she is “not against marijuana per se,” but that she is against “the way this is being pushed through without public knowledge.” Ulen said there were many residents out of town for the summer who didn’t have the opportunity to take part of the discussion.
Charles Williams told the council “If this is such good thing for the city of Mesquite there is an empty lot right over here next to city hall, put it there and make a lot of money.
Development Services Director Richard Secrist briefed the council on the proposed ordinance and the state law, which includes a deadline for state applications for medical marijuana facilities of August fifth. The law also only allows applications until August 18 and is closed afterwards for a year.
In the proposed ordinance, facilities would be limited to Light Industrial (IR-1) zones and Heavy Industrial ((IR-2) zones. The ordinance would further prohibit medical marijuana facilities from being within 1,000 feet of private or public schools and community facilities.
Councilor Kraig Hafen asked what would happen if the city didn’t adopt an ordinance before the August deadline for applications. Secrist replied “Nothing.” Secrist explained that there is no state penalty or requirement for the city to allow medical marijuana facilities in the city.
Secrist added that if there is no city ordinance before the application date individuals will not have information on city standards and fees before applying to the state. The law also provides that if there is no medical marijuana dispensary within 20 miles, a person holding a medical marijuana card may grow their own marijuana.
A discussion of proposed fees for marijuana facilities was moved to the July 22 council agenda after councilor Cindi Delaney objected, saying that the fee discussion should come after the adoption of the medical marijuana ordinance, and only if one is approved by the council.
Mayor Al Litman commented that he had spent several hours reading the Nevada Revised Statutes on marijuana and found them “incredibly complicated.”
The council is scheduled to vote on the proposed medical marijuana facility ordinance at their July 22 meeting at 5 p.m.
In other business, the council heard a report from Public Works Director Bill Tanner on the new bid proposal for the Hafen Park splash pad. In May, the council directed Tanner to rework the bid to be in-line with the amount of grant funding that was available for the project. Tanner told the council the new bid will allow for alternatives for the restrooms, sidewalk, retaining wall and fencing in order to reduce the cost of construction.