WEST WENDOVER – Recreational marijuana sales are on the way to final approval in this city that has already agreed to a medical marijuana dispensary.
West Wendover City Council voted 3-2 at its Nov. 20 meeting to prepare a draft ordinance allowing recreational sales. First reading will be at the Dec. 4 council meeting and second reading on Dec. 18.
“It’s not about being excited about marijuana. I’ve been the biggest cheerleader for any new business in town,” Mayor Daniel Corona said at the meeting. “I am sorry this has divided us.”
The mayor reminded the council marijuana sales will provide 38 jobs.
Earlier this year, Corona vetoed a council move to block recreational marijuana sales in the city.
Council member Jasie Holm made the request to bring the recreational use issue back to the council. The move was supported by the council’s newest member, Kathy Durham, who was sworn in earlier in the meeting, and by Ismael “Izzy” Gutierrez.
Councilmen Nick Flores and Gerald Anderson voted against the motion. One of the councilmen who had previously opposed recreational use, John Hanson, was defeated in the November election and replaced by Durham.
Durham said the marijuana issue has been dividing the community, but she said the voters had spoken. She said she hoped the council could move forward and get on the “train that’s coming” so the city can regulate pot from “seed to sale.”
“I don’t approve of recreational use,” said Anderson, who alleged yes votes had “been bought and paid for.”
Flores told the council he thought that when they approved medical marijuana sales, the idea was that they would “get their feet wet” first with the medical dispensary before considering recreation sales.
“I just don’t feel recreational sales is the way to go,” Flores said.
Deep Roots Harvest is already planning a more than 10,000-square-foot building in West Wendover to serve as a medical marijuana dispensary, so the company is likely to be the recreational seller. West Wendover City Manager Chris Melville said the state has authorized Deep Roots for a recreational license.
“We want dual use so probably that is how the ordinance will be written,” he told the Elko Daily Free Press on Nov. 21.
Melville also said he believes at this point West Wendover has shown it is ready to accept recreational sales, but there will be a public hearing before the final ordinance to allow people to speak.
“There was not a peep from the audience last night,” Melville said.
He said that according to the state there will only be one more license for recreational sales allowed in Elko County besides the one for Deep Roots Harvest.
If the council passes the proposed ordinance on second reading, recreational sales would be allowed beginning in January, but it will be months before actual sales will happen.
Deep Roots Harvest, which is leasing three acres from the city in the industrial park, will be providing building plans to the city next week, Melville said. Construction and state inspection will follow before the doors can open.
Not until summer
“Deep Roots estimates it will be open in the summer of 2019,” Melville said.
Deep Roots wrote to the council back in April that the company didn’t see enough medical marijuana sales potential to support a medical-only facility. The letter stated that “it is imperative to operate as a dual-licensed medical and retail facility.”
The letter also stated that a dual-purpose facility would generate substantial tax revenue.
Just because West Wendover will be a place to buy marijuana for recreational use doesn’t mean, however, that customers can legally smoke pot in the West Wendover hotels and casinos or parks or any public place. Transport of marijuana across state lines from this city on the Utah border also is illegal.
Marijuana purchased for recreational use “is meant to be consumed at home,” Melville said.
Meanwhile, another company, BRLS NV Properties V LLC, which bought 10 acres In the West Wendover Industrial Park to become a cultivation and production facility, is preparing building plans, Melville said. This company would be selling products wholesale and would not be a dispensary.
(This article was corrected from the original version to state that the recreational marijuana proposal was requested by Jasie Holm.)