Kevin Biernacki/The Grove Marijuana grows in a cultivation center in Las Vegas on July 14. The Reno City Council decided against implementing a moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments.

Kevin Biernacki/The Grove
Marijuana grows in a cultivation center in Las Vegas on July 14. The Reno City Council decided against implementing a moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Nevada Legislature and now the Reno City Council have been working on putting marijuana laws and legislation in place since Nevada residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana almost six months ago. Last Wednesday, Reno City councilmembers voted against slowing that progress when they shut down a proposal to place a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments.

During the Wednesday council meeting, several medical marijuana business owners and representatives testified against the six-month ban that would keep medical marijuana dispensaries from taking part in an early start recreational marijuana program.

The early start program would allow licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling recreational marijuana to people over 21 years old on July 1.

“When it comes to the early start program, through the marijuana dispensaries for recreational sales, you are talking the best operators who have been open long enough,” said Will Adler, director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition.

Both Councilmember Neoma Jardon and Jenny Brekhus voiced concerns with implementing the moratorium, saying that voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana over six months ago and it seems like the council is dragging its feet on getting the program started.

“Going forward, I do think we need to get ready to roll out July 1,” Brekhus said. “I’ve been in three of the dispensaries, I know they are being used, I walk and I see people driving in and out of them. I know they have a client base. I think they are operators who have been very well flushed out and they can help us with this big transition to recreational with their staffs and everything.”

Grace Crosley, a Reno resident testified in favor of placing a moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments, saying that in order for recreational marijuana legalization to work, there has to be a conversation with not only marijuana users but nonusers as well.

Crosley said Colorado and Oregon have seen backlash from communities against the legalization of recreational marijuana. Crosley hopes the moratorium would help to quietly legalize recreational marijuana without backlash.

The moratorium was proposed by the city Code Enforcement Manager, Alex Woodly. He said it would have given the city more time to implement itself with state regulations developed by the Department of Taxation.

Members of the council did express concerns with the uncertainty of several bills dealing with recreational marijuana regulations going through the Nevada Legislature.

Some marijuana related bills include those relating to taxation, creating recreational marijuana establishments, the use of recreational marijuana at events and the use of marijuana and operating a vehicle.

Councilmember Oscar Delgado said he was concerned with the length of the moratorium, saying the 6-month deadline seemed way too long for his liking.

Joey Gilbert, co-owner of Mynt Dispensary in downtown Reno brought up the point that the city of Sparks and Washoe County both declined to place a moratorium on dispensaries, making enforcement of a Reno moratorium more difficult.

“Please consider that the city of Sparks did not put a moratorium in place and I do not believe the county will either, therefore all people will have to do is drive a few miles away to pick up their recreational marijuana and bring it right back to the city where Reno and Reno’s law enforcement get to deal with all the issues or problems or even the concerns some of you have up here right now and don’t get to enjoy any of the benefits,” Gilbert said.

Instead of approving the moratorium, the council asked that the city’s legislative operations program manager, Scott Gilles report back to the City Council later this month after the Department of Taxation finalizes the temporary regulations that will set the guidelines for the early start program.