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Nevada may approve 31 new recreational marijuana licenses

By Wade Tyler Millward
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Clark County could see as many as 31 new recreational marijuana stores open based on the number of licenses the state has available.

However, the number of licenses issued depends on how many businesses apply and how keen local governments are to help the marijuana industry grow.

The application period for new dispensaries starts Friday and closes Sept. 20.

Parts of the Las Vegas Valley remain underserved, including the northwest, said John Laub, Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association president.

Laub said he expects existing marijuana businesses send in applications for more stores. He also expects cultivation and production businesses to make the jump into retail sales.

“We need to continue to grow the industry,” Laub said. “More energy will make that happen.”

Nevada dispensaries sold nearly $425 million worth of recreational marijuana in the state’s first full year of sales, according to state data.

Colorado, the first of the nine states to legalize retail pot, sold $303 million in adult-use marijuana in 2014, its first full year, while Washington sold $259 million and Oregon sold $241 million.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said that people voted for legal marijuana and should have access to it all over the valley. She believes the eastern Las Vegas Valley needs more retail stores.

“I do believe that people should be served if it’s legal,” she said. “I don’t want them to have to drive across down to purchase a legal recreational drug.”

Commissioner Susan Brager said this week that she will no longer seek a county ordinance that would require all retail stores in the unincorporated county to be co-located with a medical marijuana dispensary.

Instead, Brager said she will work to block any more retail marijuana stores from opening in her district, located in the southwestern Las Vegas Valley, for the remainder of her term in office, which runs through the end of this year.

“If you drive around in my district you can probably get somewhere in five minutes,” she said. “I think that’s sufficient enough.”

The Nevada Department of Taxation will issue licenses to qualifying businesses by Dec. 5.

License holders have 12 months to become operational.

The number of licenses per municipality within Clark County breaks down as follows:

— Unincorporated Clark County: 10

— Las Vegas: 10

— Henderson: six

— North Las Vegas: five

— Mesquite: zero

Seven licenses are available for Washoe County, two for Carson City and one for Nye County.

None of the other 13 counties in Nevada have dispensaries licensed with the state, according to Nevada Department of Taxation. One or two licenses are available for those counties.

The applicants pay $25,000 in application and license fees and must hold a medical marijuana license because of an 18-month window specified in the law. Nevada recreational marijuana sales began in July 2017.

Clark County is home to 47 recreational marijuana stores, according to tax department data. Washoe has 11, Carson City has two and Nye has one. After this application period, and barring any new marijuana legislation, the tax department will analyze how the market looks and how supply looks before allowing any new licenses in 2019, spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward@reviewjournal.com. Follow @wademillward on Twitter. Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.