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City to consider ban on medical marijuana facilities

The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to discuss and possibly vote on a staff recommendation that Boulder City ban medical marijuana establishments.

The proposed ban, which the council introduced Feb. 11, would prohibit medical marijuana establishments in Boulder City through a new zoning ordinance.

City Attorney Dave Olsen said the proposal is the result of staff discussions and interest from an individual and a casino studying opening medical marijuana establishments in Boulder City.

“We know there’s interest in doing it and rather than reacting we’re being proactive on this particular matter,” he said.

Henderson and Las Vegas recently placed moratoriums on medical marijuana establishments. But if Boulder City bans the establishments, it will be the first Clark County city to do so.

The city and state define medical marijuana establishments as testing laboratories, cultivation facilities, facilities for the production of edible marijuana products or marijuana-infused products, and marijuana dispensaries.

In a written report from Olsen to the council and city manager, he states that “there are a wide and varied range of pro and con opinions about marijuana use,” but he concludes that allowing medical marijuana establishments in Boulder City “does not promote public health, safety or welfare.”

The report contains information about the dangers of driving while using marijuana and its negative health effects.

“Based upon my personal research, marijuana as a substance you smoke is many times more dangerous to human health than tobacco smoke,” Olsen told the Boulder City Review.

However, the report contains no information about the positive health effects of the plant, which can be ingested, and has been used to treat a multitude of ailments, including loss of appetite in cancer patients and seizures.

The report also mentions that marijuana is illegal under federal law, but fails to mention the federal government’s stance on not challenging states that permit the drug for medicinal or even recreational purposes.

Olsen said marijuana dispensaries could provide “tremendous revenue opportunities” for the city, but this information is not in the report either.

The report states cities that have allowed marijuana dispensaries have witnessed an increase in crime, including burglaries, robberies and illegal drug sales in the areas surrounding facilities.

Despite the tone of the report, Olsen claims he has “no dog in this fight.”

“I’m just doing what I’ve been tasked to do,” he said.

Police Chief Bill Conger said crime increased around dispensaries in California, where some cities such as Riverside have banned the businesses, and he is concerned it could happen in Boulder City.

Conger said he believes that medical marijuana establishments would attract people from outside the city and state, especially because there are only 20 registered medical marijuana patients living in Boulder City.

“We would have an influx of people who have marijuana cards to buy marijuana,” he said.

“I don’t have the policemen to regulate that.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada since 2001 for qualifying individuals with a prescription, who have been permitted to grow a limited number of plants for personal use.

However, until the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 374 last year, which goes into effect April 1, there was no law allowing for the commercial growth and sale of marijuana.

The new law will allow 40 dispensaries in Clark County. Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers will be required to purchase marijuana from a dispensary unless they live more than 25 miles from one or are physically unable to do so. In that case, they will be permitted to grow as many as 12 plants for personal use.

The Boulder City Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss the ban Wednesday after this paper’s deadline.

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