County Approves Medical Cannabis Dispensary for Spanish Springs

Numerous residents spoke out today against the relocation of a marijuana dispensary from Incline Village to Spanish Springs.

But Washoe County commissioners approved the relocation, which paves the way for a new medical cannabis dispensary in the Sparks area.

Citizens cited numerous issues about the approval, including advertising concerns, the proximity to schools, the potential impact on youth, and claiming that marijuana is a so-called gateway drug.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse, which regulates marijuana federally, indicates that there is little evidence for this perspective and that the effect of cannabis leading to other drugs is not greater than alcohol.

“Cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana,” the Institute writes. “Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs52 and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances.”

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung questioned the dispensary’s applicant, Rise Dispensary, about whether it would be eligible for recreational marijuana sales.

County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler.

A representative for the company said no, because it is not yet operational.

The reason for the relocation is because there is already another dispensary in Incline Village. The county is seeking to spread out where dispensaries are located.

Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said that existing dispensaries have not had a negative impact.

“Most of these facilities that are now in place, no one recognizes that they are a problem,” she said. “All the other facilities that are in the City of Reno or in the county are located in neighborhoods where people walk by them all the time.

“It’s been thrust upon municipal governments across the state to deal with. We are where we are, and we have to more forward.”

Commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Jeanne Herman voted against the relocation.

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Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.