Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jun 2014
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2014 Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: John L. Smith
Page: 1B


The medical marijuana dispensary license applicant swore he could 
smell something in the air inside Clark County government, and it 
wasn't pot smoke.

It was the malodor of politics.

Why, he recently asked after we agreed he'd remain anonymous, were 
applicants with connections to the state's gaming industry receiving 
special consideration? Couldn't they have easily anticipated the 
state Gaming Control Board would take issue with their relationship 
with a drug that's against federal law to sell? Shouldn't they have 
done their due diligence?

And if they were actually taken by surprise by Control Board Chairman 
A.G. Burnett's admonishment to steer clear of medical marijuana 
licensing for the foreseeable future, what did that say about their 
judgment? Was it clouded by the lucrative potential of owning a 
coveted dispensary license?

When the Clark County Commission voted to allow all applicants to 
reassess their ownership structure on their applications, weren't the 
elected officials simply allowing the players with casino industry 
connections a do-over?

"Where's the fairness in that?" he asked recently.

He concluded, as some others have, that in this case it was better to 
ask the gaming regulators and commissioners for forgiveness than for 

For the record, the application process is again closed, and the 
commission has set aside much of the coming week for a marathon 
public hearing on the dispensary issue.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani defended the decision to briefly 
reopen the process, and observed Friday, "Everyone was caught off 
guard with the Gaming Control thing." She added that every applicant 
was allowed to amend its investor list and ownership structure.

But no one can reasonably deny that reopening the application 
process, for whatever reason, only added to the air of politics in a 
process already riddled with well-connected applicants, some of whom 
have known commission members throughout their careers.

It will be interesting to see whether those applicants who changed 
ownership are among those who receive the county's approval.

The commission recently made the decision to hold more than two days 
of hearings to consider each of the more than 80 dispensary 
applications before it.

At the end of that laborious process, with all zoning issues 
answered, commissioners will then vote to forward 18 applicants to 
the state with recommendations for license approval.

The county controls 18 licenses, and Clark County Commission Chairman 
Steve Sisolak is aggressively shepherding the process. It was Sisolak 
who succeeded in persuading a majority of commissioners to limit the 
recommendations to the

'Arbitrary' to limit recommendations See page 40

 From page 1B number of available licenses.

The dispensary applicant, who displayed a working knowledge of 
Southern Nevada's mercurial political structure, noted the obvious 
potential for a problem should the state decide to disqualify one or 
more of the 18 chosen licensees.

"What if the state doesn't like it?" he asked. "Do they now go back 
to the county? Are we supposed to wait around, keep our properties 
tied up, keep the (business) entity going, keep paying lawyers? It 
doesn't make sense."

Giunchigliani agrees. She said she still believes limiting the number 
to 18 is a mistake with substantial potential downsides.

"It's arbitrary," Giunchigliani says. "There's no rationale to it. .. 
If we have 52 that qualify, I think we should send 52 to the state."

Her commission colleagues obviously disagreed.

What if an applicant meets the land use and zoning qualifications at 
the county level and can pass inspection with the state? Shouldn't 
they also receive consideration?

And if they feel snubbed after making a substantial investment in the 
licensing process, do you suppose they'll just tip their caps and 
stroll off into the hazy Nevada sunset? Giunchigliani doesn't think 
so. "We should send all those that qualify to the state," she says. 
"This issue of only sending the 18 is ludicrous, in my mind."

As a community, we should hope the smoke of the medical marijuana 
issue begins to clear in the coming week.

But given the politics, unanswered questions and potential for 
litigation, what are the chances of that happening?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom