The Mesquite City Council only has two options regarding the right to grow marijuana for recreational use in the immediate vicinity when it addresses the issue at its Jan. 10 meeting. They can either choose to have one grow facility in the region that is highly regulated, highly inspected and produces a safe product that is taxed.
Or, they can choose to have 300, 400 or 500 grow facilities that are not regulated, not inspected, and by all probability, will not produce as safe a product. Moreover, these facilities will not be taxed.
Some council members would like to have a third option that prohibits anyone, licensed or not, commercial or not, private or not, from growing recreational marijuana anywhere near Mesquite.
Sorry, that’s not an option under the law passed statewide by voters in November.
While 57 percent of Mesquite residents voted against legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, 54 percent of Nevada residents chose the opposite. It’s now state law and that’s it.
Yes, in 2014 the council added a provision to the city code when it approved a medical marijuana dispensary would require a vote by Mesquite residents to approve or disapprove the sale of recreational marijuana. It didn’t say anything about the right for private individuals to grow their own.
While some council members and residents would like to hang their hat on that provision and disallow any growing or cultivation in the Mesquite area, they can’t. That option was overtaken by the new state law and there’s nothing the council can do about it.
They can beg the state legislature to amend the law or add a provision to disallow local growers but that’s not an option. The legislature can’t change the basic fundamentals of the law for three years.
It’s no longer about whether you personally approve of the use of recreational marijuana. Now it’s only about making sure it’s regulated, inspected, made safe and, ultimately, taxed.
Option one, allow a sanctioned recreational marijuana sale facility in Mesquite, is the best.
Section 14 in the law prohibits personal cultivation of recreational marijuana (not medical marijuana) if there is a licensed retail marijuana store within 25 miles. Fines for growing your own under that provision range from $600 for the first offense to a category E felony for fourth or subsequent violations.
A licensed retail marijuana store also requires extensive state regulation, frequent health inspections, sanitary and restrictive growing conditions that provide for a safe product, and ultimately, taxation. Law enforcement of illegal personal growing could be much easier.
Option two, allow personal cultivation of six marijuana plants per person or 12 plants at a single residence, is a disaster for Mesquite.
There would be no regulation, no health inspections, no requirement for sanitary and restrictive growing conditions, no assurance that the product is safe, and ultimately, no taxation. Law enforcement would be much tougher.
Some argue that black market cartels will move into the area and establish grow houses willy-nilly. Drug users will flock to Mesquite to purchase and use recreational marijuana creating an unsafe atmosphere for children and residents. Drugs will run rampant through neighborhoods in the city.
All of those doomsday scenarios are much more likely if the council does not choose option one and provide for one retail sale outlet thus prohibiting personal grow facilities within 25 miles.