Approval of a pot shop near the Las Vegas Strip raises questions

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Clark County Commissioner Ross Miller questions the regulatory process that allowed an unfinished marijuana dispensary just off the Las Vegas Strip to overcome licensing hurdles .

Cheyenne Medical, which does business as Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, was granted a quiet license last month without a public hearing before the elected board, in possible violation of a 2019 state law that prohibits marijuana operations within 1,500 feet (457 meters) of a casino, Miller said. the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The dispensary site, next to a topless club, is less than 1,500 feet from Resorts World Las Vegas, the Strip’s newest megaresort, according to Miller and a county report.


The 1 acre (0.5 hectare) site borders the parking lot of the adult nightclub Sapphire Las Vegas.

Some construction has begun at the site, which a month ago was mostly dirt land surrounded by metal fences with signs promoting the Thrive Dispensary. There is a partial white cement structure with a makeshift address.

Cheyenne Medical/Thrive has a lease to manage the property’s dispensary, which is owned by one of Sapphire Las Vegas’ partners, Michael Talla. The company may be looking to open a more lucrative marijuana parlor there.

Miller said the county’s application process in this case circumvents the state’s 2019 law that applies the same strict regulatory standards for the casino industry to marijuana dispensaries.

“And so when you look at how it’s been handled, you can’t tell me without laughing that we regulate marijuana like gambling,” Miller said. “It’s a joke.”

“I would say I have great concerns about the approvals process that got this candidate to full county and state licenses. Just days before receiving those approvals, they were in front of the whole commission county to seek a two-year extension after staff said they weren’t even close to completing what they were required to do.

Since Nevadans voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, most criticism of regulation of the fledgling industry has been directed at the state, not the county.

The Review-Journal reported in August that the FBI was investigating whether illegal influence played a role in how the state granted lucrative cannabis licenses.

A year earlier, in a high-profile dispute over the regulation of marijuana dispensaries, a state court judge questioned the fairness of the state’s process under the Nevada Department of Taxation.

The state’s regulatory system was bolstered by the 2019 law, which removed licensing from the tax department and placed it under a new Cannabis Compliance Board that operates in the public eye in the same way. manner as the Nevada Gaming Board of Control.

SURFACE OF TRANSPARENCY ISSUES

Miller, an attorney and former Nevada secretary of state, raised questions about the lack of transparency in the Cheyenne Medical/Thrive dispensary licensing process. He wants a public discussion in front of the entire departmental commission.

At a 2020 meeting of the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board, Talla said he purchased the property several years ago with the intention of moving a marijuana dispensary there. He said he wanted Cheyenne Medical to run it.

State records list Talla as the director of the company that owns the politically connected Sapphire Las Vegas. Over the years, the adult club has donated thousands of dollars to prominent county and state officials.

The Review-Journal’s efforts to reach Talla were unsuccessful.

Lucy Stewart, a land use consultant with Cheyenne Medical who represented the company before the county commission, did not return calls from the newspaper seeking comment. Neither did attorney Derek Connor, who spoke for the company in the state proceedings.

Miller is furious.

“We’re supposed to look at that to make sure it’s a suitable location, that the building is the right size,” he said. “You must submit a business plan and an operating plan. You need to make sure it is not near certain businesses or schools. None of those things have apparently been tracked here.

In an email to county officials raising concerns, Miller added, “The county’s approval process for this license does not provide more assurance that meaningful regulatory review has never performed for Cheyenne Medical’s request at this location.”

Responding to Miller’s transparency concerns, county spokesman Dan Kulin said, “County public hearings into cannabis businesses are being conducted through the land use process. There was a public hearing on the special use permit for this location in 2017.”

Cheyenne Medical/Thrive did not participate in the landlord’s efforts to install a marijuana dispensary on the property until 2020, about three years after a land use hearing for the property, records show.

The company appeared before the Clark County Commission on Nov. 17 seeking an extension to complete construction of a 9,454 square foot (878.3 square meter) cannabis facility, records show.

County staff members recommended denying the extension, which threatened Cheyenne Medical’s ability to obtain its county business license by Dec. 6, according to a county planning report.

Staff members pointed out that there was little progress in construction and that the site did not meet the new requirement of the state’s 2019 law prohibiting marijuana dispensaries within 1,500 feet of a casino.

GAME OPPOSITION

The project has also drawn opposition from the Nevada Resort Association, the influential lobbying arm of the casino industry.

NRA President Virginia Valentine, a former Clark County executive, opposed the plan at the Nov. 17 meeting because of the law prohibiting a dispensary near a resort or casino.

At the request of Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who lobbied for state law to legalize marijuana, the case was held.

Five days later, the company obtained a temporary occupancy certificate from the Clark County Building and Fire Protection Department to open a facility of just 557 square feet (51.75 square meters) on the property. , Miller said.

Approval was granted by anonymous staff without a public hearing and without input from county commissioners.

Cheyenne Medical/Thrive then obtained a state license from the Cannabis Compliance Board and a temporary county business license on Dec. 3, exceeding the county-mandated licensing deadline by three days, Miller said.

Segerblom, whose district covers the dispensary site, said he did not believe anything inappropriate happened.

“It seems like a thing where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” he said, adding that the county’s job is to try to help keep a business project alive. .

“It’s a great location for a dispensary,” he said. “There are a lot of activities there that would be appropriate for this location.”

But Segerblom also said he supports any initiative to improve the transparency of the regulatory process.

Tyler Klimas, executive director of the Cannabis Compliance Board, said his agency conducted due diligence and discussed the Sammy Davis Jr. Drive project with county officials and concluded that it met the requirements for a cannabis license. ‘State.

EQUITY IN QUESTION

Cheyenne Medical now has approval to open a dispensary, but the facility is not nearly complete and the state and county are losing valuable taxes, Miller said.

“The public should fully expect that approvals for any of these facilities will be made in a public hearing, just like every other business out there,” Miller said. “Everyone should play by the same rules.”

Valentine shares this point of view.

“Cannabis remains illegal under federal law and unless that changes, our members, as preferred licensees, must follow all federal, state and local laws to remain in compliance with gaming regulations” , she said in a statement to the Review-Journal. “That is why we have a long and consistent position on the location of cannabis establishments and have strongly advocated for a 1,500 foot separation distance with unrestricted gaming license holders.

“The 1,500 foot buffer zone is a guarantee to separate the two industries. In this particular case, location within that 1,500 foot buffer zone is our primary concern, especially with the legalization of cannabis lounges. Given the potential new use of a cannabis lounge added to this location, this raises political concerns for our members and a number of issues for neighbors of the site, including questions about adequate security measures, control odors and pedestrian safety.

In an email to county officials last month, an assistant district attorney said the Cannabis Control Board found the 1,500-foot requirement applied to the property’s special use permit. , not the licensee. And since property owner Sammy Davis Jr. Drive obtained a special use permit in 2017, the restriction does not apply at Cheyenne Medical’s request.

This did not influence Miller.

“It’s the law,” he said. “And so we should follow the law… and this candidate did absolutely nothing to comply with it within that timeframe, and we rushed to approve it on a made-up basis and bent all the rules in order to allow openness from an establishment that is in violation of these distancing requirements.

About Larry Noble

Check Also

Canada, New Brunswick and Hartland invest in new community complex to support active lifestyles for residents of Central Carleton

HARTLAND, N.B., April 28, 2022 /CNW/ – From roads and buildings to water treatment systems …