City Votes to have Staff Explore Marijuana Plans - 8 News NOW

City Votes to have Staff Explore Medical Marijuana Plans

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LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas City Council voted to direct city staff to explore and research plans to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the city.

The 5-to-2 vote came after a lengthy discussion among the city council, with council members Lois Tarkanian and Stavros Anthony dissenting.

For Anthony, a former Metro Police narcotics officer, the issue is personal. During the discussion, he read several pages of statistics and studies that he felt showed the dangers of marijuana use and sale.

"I will not support medical marijuana program in the city of Las Vegas," Anthony said.

The decision does not mean dispensaries will be given the green light, but the city council can come back to the issue at a later date. Dispensaries are not allowed under a six-month moratorium that expires in March.

Councilman Bob Coffin supported the plan to allow dispensaries and admitted he had smoked the drug years ago.

"The first time I ever smoked it I was 30 years old, or 31 years old," he told the council.

Coffin says he would be willing to try the drug now to help with pain from a car accident that happened more than 30 years ago.

"Now, people make it so you can eat it, and I think that is just fine," Coffin said.

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but that law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug except to grow it themselves. Lawmakers passed a law in 2013 that sets up a framework for distributing medical marijuana, although it allows cities and counties to impose moratoriums.

The city set a deadline of March 17 to develop a medical marijuana dispensary program, which could one day allow as many as 10 dispensaries within city limits.

A total of 40 dispensaries could be allowed in Clark County.

Even though the city did not fully move forward with licensing, future dispensaries are preparing to open. 

Christopher McDermitt hopes to be the owner of one of those new dispensaries. McDermitt uses the drug to cope with pain from medical problems.

"I get emotional even just talking about it. To me, it is just the greatest thing," McDermitt said. "If you can help somebody, naturally without going through all these chemical procedures, that's just the best."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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