Tuesday night the Mesquite City Council formally reversed itself and approved holding a special meeting August 5 at 5 p.m. to make a decision on allowing medical marijuana facilities within Mesquite.
The decision was 4 – 1 with councilor Kraig Hafen voting no. Hafen supported the previous council decision that would have delayed a vote until January of 2015.
While council members didn’t disclose their reasons for reversing the previous decision, the large crowd attending the meeting let the council know their opinions. At the beginning of the meeting Mayor Al Litman admonished the crowd to respect each others opinion and that “I will expect nothing less than civil behavior from everyone this evening.”
Testimony was split between support and opposition of adopting council bills 484 and 485, which establish zoning and licensing for medical marijuana establishments including dispensaries and growing facilities.
Joe Brezny, the executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association told the council that while he supported full legalization of marijuana, “we are implementing a program for medical marijuana 14 years after voters approved it in our constitution.” Brezny told the council that 14 years didn’t sound like “rushing” a decision. He noted that 23 states and the District of Columbia all approve medical marijuana.
“We have about the worst situation we can have. Everyone on both sides agree that the war on drugs has been a failure,” and “drug dealers don’t check ID’s,” Brezny told the council.
Others commenting to the council in favor of the ordinances included resident Ralph Drake. “Medical marijuana is not recreational marijuana, it is a drug for people who are sick,” Drake told the council. “We need medical marijuana in Mesquite this year and not next year or the year after,” said Drake.
Larry Kepler, a retired marine, told the council of his battle with post-traumatic stress syndrome and with alcohol addiction, “every time I drank I woke up with handcuffs.” Kepler related how medical marijuana had helped him cope without alcohol or strong drugs.
Testimony against the council bills included Dennis Lee, Pastor of the Living Waters Fellowship who told the council that “they need to be men and women of their word,” and that they shouldn’t have reversed the earlier decision to delay the final vote. “I would like to know that I have a council I can trust and that is trustworthy,” Lee said.
Mesquite businessman Dave Ballweg told the council that medical marijuana was already available in Mesquite. “The truth of the matter is that there is regular marijuana delivery in Mesquite without the state issuing any licenses,” Ballweg told the council. “There are dozens of delivery services in Las Vegas including one that advertises deliveries to Mesquite,” Ballweg said. Ballweg urged the council to delay the decision so that the issue can be better studied and understood by the community, including the snow birds who are not being heard.
LDS stake president Theron Jensen also opposed the ordinances telling the council that “making things legal doesn’t make it right.” Jensen said he didn’t oppose people who need medical marijuana getting it, but that they should “get it somewhere else.” Jensen said the message that “marijuana is all right,” shouldn’t be given to the children of Mesquite.
“How about we just do what is right in our hearts,” Jensen added.
During councilmember comments, Cindi Delaney read a prepared statement concerning rumors about her having a conflict of interest on medical marijuana. Delaney said taking criticism, as an elected official was part of the job and that she “has a thick skin.” But then said, “When you involve my children, my husband or my family you cross a line. Shame on you.”
Delaney said she had received anonymous emails and phone calls accusing her of having a son in Washington State who wanted to start a medical marijuana business in Mesquite. “My 38 year old son is a 100 percent disabled Iraqi Veteran…who lives in Washington State. He has a medical marijuana card because he’s one of those fine young men that was willing to, and almost did give his life for your right to enjoy that first amendment right,” Delaney said.
Delaney went on to criticize the “small mean-spirited minority” who spread rumors while remaining anonymous. “If your email doesn’t have a return address, don’t bother. Your email will immediately be deleted.”
The council then decided to hold an informational meeting on medical marijuana with invited speakers at their next meeting on July 29 at 5 p.m., and the final full hearing on the proposed ordinances at a special meeting on August 5 at 5 p.m.
In other business, the council approved a 71-lot subdivision on 25 acres within the Falcon Ridge Planned Unit Development on Birdie Lane.
Also, the council approved introduction of an ordinance to regulate the feeding and keeping of pigeons.