Medical marijuana in Nevada: Dispensary likely for Incline Village | SierraSun.com

Medical marijuana in Nevada: Dispensary likely for Incline Village

Tim Hauserman
Special to the Bonanza

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Five allocations for medical marijuana dispensaries may be awarded in the unincorporated portion of Washoe County sometime in late November.

And once the dust settles, the Incline Village area is likely to have one location open for business.

The Nevada Division of Public Health and Behavioral Health set up medical marijuana regulations in early 2014 after the state legislature OK'd use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

Those regulations provide for a lengthy state and local application process for potential businesses to be considered for the right to set up the state-regulated "medical marijuana establishments."

“In Incline, a few people were concerned we were going to be overrun by a bunch of people using marijuana on our streets.”
Marsha Berkbigler
Washoe County commissioner

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Applications were accepted only during a 10-day period in August, and between dispensaries and the other businesses related to bringing medical marijuana to patients, 519 applications were received, according to an Oct. 3 report from the state.

As part of a 90-day process, those applications are being reviewed and rated, and it's expected that 66 will be awarded a provisional allocation to take the next step in early November.

Of those, 10 would be allowed for Washoe County — five of which would be for the unincorporated areas of the county, which includes Incline Village/Crystal Bay.

So far, Washoe County has "received very, very few complaints, except in Incline Village," said Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, regarding the potential for dispensaries to be licensed here.

"In Incline, a few people were concerned we were going to be overrun by a bunch of people using marijuana on our streets," she said. "It's still not legal to use it on the street. And besides, most medical marijuana is not delivered through a smoking form. It's a specially grown marijuana…"

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READ MORE: Visit Washoe County's FAQ website at washoecounty.us/repository/files/20/MME_FAQ.pdf to learn more about the county process.

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Berkbigler, whose seat on the commission represents Incline Village/Crystal Bay, said the county has the responsibility to make sure facilities are disbursed throughout the county so all residents are provided reasonable access to medicine.

Therefore, it is unlikely there will be more then one dispensary in the Incline area, she said.

'IT IS NOT RECREATIONAL'

Once allocations are made, the next step is the local approval process, which is carried out through the county where the operation would be located.

In addition to dispensaries — which supply medicinal marijuana products to consumers who hold valid Marijuana Registry Cards — the state also regulates and provides separate permits for those who cultivate medicinal marijuana, produce edible marijuana products, and for labs that test the product for THC concentration and contaminants.

"These are 'medical marijuana establishments.' These will not be businesses that look like pot shops," said Pam Graber, education and information officer for the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program. "Unless you have a patient card, you are not allowed in. There will not be a ton of traffic. It is not recreational marijuana — it is for people who are really, really ill and need it to get through the day."

Nevada's medicinal marijuana program is designed to improve symptoms for the following ailments: cancer, post traumatic stress disorder, AIDS, glaucoma, muscle spasms, Cachexia (wasting and malnutrition caused by chronic disease), muscle spasms (frequently related to multiple sclerosis), seizures and severe nausea and pain.

While some of the state's dispensaries will be stand-alone businesses, others will be vertically integrated, which means that growing and selling will happen under one ownership.

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READ MORE: Visit the state of Nevada's medical marijuana website at health.nv.gov/MedicalMarijuana.htm to learn more about the state process.

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The labs, however, must be independent and cannot be owned by an entity that also owns one of the other facilities.

"All product must be certified by a lab — from seed to sale. We want a product that is safe and pure," Graber said. "The percentage of the different chemical components will be marked on the product. Then the patient can pick the product that works best for them and their symptoms."

Ironically, it is the low-THC medical medicine that often produces the best results for the patients, Graber said.

Having lab-tested products, she said, "will make a big difference. They will be able to purchase and know what they are getting — a very compassionate approach for our patients."

'CONTROLLING MEDICAL MARIJUANA'

While the state is looking to establish a system that produces a safe product for the patient, other factors must be considered before OK'ing an application.

Location of proposed businesses is one. They cannot be closer then 1,000 feet from a public or private school, or 300 feet from a community facility such as a senior center or swimming pool.

Potential owners undergo background checks, and there are financial stability requirements as well.

Once they pass state of Nevada scrutiny, the successful applicants then must get approval from the county.

Berkbigler said the county is given 15 days from approval from the state — expected sometime in November — to review applications.

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

Further, "The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health may authorize patients or caregivers with valid medical marijuana identification cards from other states to receive medical marijuana under specified situations."

The county would do its own criminal investigation, and staff is still reviewing the issue of how much to charge for licensing fees, she said.

"Most citizens have been supportive. We do a very effective job of controlling gaming — we will do an effective job of controlling medical marijuana," she said. "There is no question that medical marijuana can make a big difference in the lives of those in pain, and for children, who face seizures to be able to cut back on the use of narcotics."

Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, now on its 3rd edition, as well as "Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children." He may be reached at writeonrex@yahoo.com.

Local applications

The following seven locations are listed as potential locations for a medical marijuana establishment in Incline/Crystal Bay. All are applications for dispensaries only:

10 Stateline Road, Crystal Bay

874 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village

754 Mays Blvd., Incline Village

754 Mays Blvd, Unit No. 12, Incline Village

760 Mays Blvd., Unit No. 9, Incline Village

288 Village Blvd. Unit Nos. 3 and 4, Incline Village

877 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village

Source: Washoe County