Wells moves toward medical pot dispensary
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Wells moves toward medical pot dispensary

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Marijuana leaf

WELLS – Wells has cracked the door on allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in the city and already has requests for two letters of support from potential operators of a medical dispensary.

“Please be aware that the City of Wells Board of Council has voted to allow one dispensary within the City of Wells. The applicant selected by the State of Nevada Marijuana Division may be permitted under a special use permit, however, the stipulations of that permit have not yet been decided,” the letter of support reads. The letter signed by Wells City Manager Jolene Supp says applicants for a dispensary license have council approval to use this letter in support of their application process.

“Clearly if an entity is selected by the state, the City of Wells will work with them to create an atmosphere that incorporates the State of Nevada NRS regulations for placement as well as the Board of Council’s vision,” the letter concludes.

Wells City Council approved the letter of support for a medical marijuana dispensary at its Sept. 11 meeting, with two council members, Tamrah Jackson and Michael Pace, opposed. Jackson and Pace are both in law enforcement. Those voting in favor were Mayor Layla Walz, Vice Mayor Yvonne Stuart and Laura Moore Delrio.

The council would still vote to approve or disapprove applicants, Supp said.

The council also approved a resolution for a 3 percent tax on growing and dispensing marijuana in the city, “like a monthly room tax,” she said on Sept. 25.

Supp said she has given two of the letters to applicants, and she suspects the state may approve both applicants and “leave the decision to Wells” on which one can open the dispensary.

Wells already has already sold two 5-acre plots in the city’s industrial park for marijuana growing and production facilities, but the city had until this month opposed a medical marijuana dispensary or recreational sales outlet within the city limits.

Earthwork has started on one site in the industrial park, but the city doesn’t have the construction plans yet. No work is started yet on the other site.

Supp said the applicants seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary are applying within the state’s window for such applications, and there is the potential that a push will come for allowing recreational sales once the state begins taking new applications for recreational sales.

According to the Sept. 11 council agenda, H&K Growers was slated to address the board about a medical/recreation dispensary on that day.

The council may consider recreational sales, Supp said, once a medical dispensary is approved.

“To me, that’s the pattern,” she said.

The council is looking at the economic benefits of marijuana sales because “they are talking about as much as 60 jobs [among] the three operations. We could not turn our nose to that,” she said. “Tax dollars are huge.”

The three operations would be the two wholesale production facilities and a dispensary in the city.

The city looked at a study done for Parachute, Colorado, that is similar in size to Wells, Supp said. Parachute sells both recreational and medical marijuana, and the summary of that study states the “retail marijuana in Parachute serves as an immediate and viable option to diversify the economy and generate one-time and recurring town revenues.”

The 2016 study estimated Parachute could receive between $90,000 and $225,000 in sale taxes per year. Excess taxes on unprocessed retail marijuana are estimated at roughly $150,000 per 10,000 square feet of cultivation space.

“One-time revenues associated with the licensing and construction of retail marijuana establishments are sizeable and could generate substantial town revenues, especially in the event of a multi-operator development,” the summary states.

That Colorado study by BBC Research and Consulting estimated 17-43 jobs at the retail level, 15 at the cultivation level and 18 at the manufacturing level with one dispensary, one cultivation facility and one production facility.

The study’s estimates included the potential for travelers on nearby Interstate 70 to stop in the town to purchase marijuana.

The Wells council also is looking at charging marijuana businesses a fee to be used for an additional law-enforcement officer because of the additional work involved. Wells currently has a contract with the Elko County Sheriff’s Department for coverage of the city.

Supp said those looking at marijuana sales in Wells were “all thumbs up” about a charge for a code enforcement officer for one year, but she believes the council would want the charge for longer than one year.

West Wendover had been the only city in Elko County that had voted to allow a medical marijuana dispensary and has approved a lease for land in its industrial park for a dispensary, as well as selling land in the park for a cultivation and production facility.

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