Opinion: What could go wrong with pot shops in Incline Village?
November 4, 2015
Did you know there are two proposed Medical Marijuana Establishments (MMEs) slated for Incline, one near Susie Scoops and the other at Village Shopping Center near Lupitas? Both are within 100 feet of apartments with kids.
It's likely these MMEs are far less about supplying truly needy sick people with pain relief. Medical marijuana has been available in Nevada for over 10 years. Further, dispensaries are located around the basin, including South Lake Tahoe (in California).
Most probably, the true end game here is for the MMEs to get established so that if/when recreational use laws pass in Nevada, they will be ready to profit heavily by attracting and selling to the general public.
A group of over 200 Incline Village residents strongly feels that should even one of these shops open in Incline, it would irreparably damage our beautiful Village. Here's why.
1. Crime and safety: Fire and Police Department officials in areas where MMEs are located cite a significant increase in violent and property crime because this is a cash business. They cite increased fire danger from making the chemicals that are added to the drug — some of this activity can occur illegally inside buildings of small shops, homes and apartments. MMEs are owned by shrewd and powerful corporations with tentacles everywhere, but are often run at the store level by the type of sketchy people who are typically found in the drug trade. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
2. Traffic Safety: Because of our thickly forested landscape, the lack of street and highway lighting, our steep and curvy roads, and snowy weather, we've already had fatalities of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Statistcs show that in some locations where MMEs have opened, traffic related fatalities have increased. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
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3. Exposure: In most communities, the MMEs are located away from private residences. Because of the unique way Incline Village is built, our zoning laws lump commercial businesses and residential units into one "Commercial/Residential" building type. Thus MMEs, can exist 100 feet from Suzie Scoops, Lupitas, and a speech therapist's office whose main clientele are children. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
4. Tourism and our local economy: Our Village needs tourism money to survive. The typical Incline tourists are families with kids, with adults who are mature in age, behavior and economic status. They spend money in our shops, restaurants, casinos, our major hotel, The Hyatt, and recreational facilities. Many times you will see families with grandparents, parents and children happily strolling down Lakeshore or at our beaches. They are mostly responsible, law abiding and courteous people. We welcome them. Now, fast forward a few years when we have MMEs selling pot recreationally to vacationers who flock here not only for the beauty and beaches, but also for the pot that we now sell like beer. Gone will be the multi-generational families strolling down Lakeshore. Instead, we could have visitors littering our beaches, like what happens on the East shore between Incline and Sand Harbor and beyond, with beer bottles, pot bongs, used condoms and more. These tourists, instead of adding money to our Village, will cost us dearly. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
5. Finally and most importantly, Quality of Life: My family moved to Tahoe from the Bay Area about 12 years ago. Like so many others, we were attracted not only by the beauty, but also by a lack of crime, graffiti and property neglect. We love the sense of community and safety that allows us to leave our homes and cars unlocked and our children walking and biking to school and around town; our great schools; the beautiful parks, sports fields, hiking trails, dog park, rec center, disc golf, beaches and ski resort in a mostly drug and thug free environment.
Already, some of us see people getting high around town. Already, we have to explain to our kids what "that funny smell is." When we sell pot legally, we will become resigned to this pot culture. But let's not get upset or oppose MMEs in Incline. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Please email and call our County Commissioners and Assemblyman. Most importantly, join our group in going to the County Commissioners meeting in Reno on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m., to voice our opinion to the politicians who can stop this in its tracks by passing new zoning regulations.
The ONLY way we are going to stop the MMEs is by showing up in mass and putting pressure on the politicians we elected who are supposed to be working for and protecting us.
Remember that "Evil Triumphs when Good People are Silent."
John Redfern is a full-time Incline Village resident. He may be reached for comment at email@example.com.