Approval of three Lake Tahoe pot dispensaries sparks lawsuit |

Approval of three Lake Tahoe pot dispensaries sparks lawsuit

Staff and wire reports
A medical marijuana patient from California exhales smoke in this 2010 photo. It's now legal in Nevada to smoke, eat and ingest approved medical marijuana.
File photo |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A legal battle has sparked over the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washoe County — with particular interest to those OK’d for Incline Village.

Lawyers for Washoe Dispensary LLC filed a lawsuit Tuesday that alleges Nevada’s ranking system undermines a provision intended to guard against monopolies for selling the medicine.

The suit against the state of Nevada’s Department of Health, Division of Public and Behavioral Health and Washoe County argues that by the county allowing three dispensaries in Incline Village/Crystal Bay — according to the state, unincorporated Washoe County was given five allocations — it doesn’t provide fair access to patients in need.

“By not following this practice, Washoe County is slated to have three dispensaries in Incline Village-Crystal Bay, one near Galena High School, and one in Sun Valley,” Ardea Canepa, attorney for Washoe Dispensary, said in a statement. “That definitely goes against the idea of geographic disbursement and allowing patients all across Washoe County easy access to this medication.”

In December, the Washoe County Commission voted to move ahead with issuing licenses to the five applicants who received provisional licenses from the state, despite concerns among commissioners about having more than one dispensary in Incline.

“Setting up three dispensaries in Incline Village-Crystal Bay is ridiculous,” Shane Smith, one of the partners in Washoe Dispensary, said in a statement. “Having three dispensaries in such close proximity to each other, and to the California state line, seems to indicate the state was either oblivious or catering to the idea of building a medical tourism industry at Tahoe centered around medical marijuana.”

Further, the suit argues that Tryke Companies Reno LLC shouldn’t be awarded two licenses — one in Sparks and one in unincorporated Washoe County — because it breaks the state’s law limiting any one business to 10 percent of licenses in any jurisdiction.

Neither the state nor the county had responded to the suit as of Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press and Reno Gazette-Journal, Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller on Tuesday said he had no comment.

As of Wednesday morning, Brett Scolari, the attorney for Tryke Companies, said he hadn’t read the complaint yet and declined comment, according to the AP.

Nevada legalized the distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in 2013. The state released its rankings of businesses for dispensary licenses in November 2014.

Washoe County is allowed 10 dispensaries: three in Reno, two in Sparks, and five in unincorporated areas.

In those rankings, Washoe Dispensary ranked sixth out of 11 for unincorporated areas.

“Most of us have, in good faith, invested thousands of dollars to fulfill the state application process and also the county’s special use permit process,” Smith said. “We complied with the process laid out in the law, we expected them to do the same.”

Specifics on the licenses and locations in Incline/Crystal Bay aren’t known because the process is confidential, and some businesses awarded licenses in November didn’t reveal a name.

In all, seven applications were submitted locally, including 874 Tahoe Blvd., 754 Mays Blvd., 754 Mays Blvd. Unit No. 12, 760 Mays Blvd. Unit No. 9, 288 Village Blvd. Unit Nos. 3/4, 877 Tahoe Blvd., and 10 Stateline Road (in Crystal Bay).

The Incline applications are only for dispensaries, and not larger cultivation-oriented businesses.

According to the county, a dispensary “delivers or sells marijuana or related supplies and educational materials to patients or care givers with a valid Nevada medical marijuana identification card.”

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