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City gets presentation on potential cannabis lounges

By Bob Conrad

Cannabis possession arrests are down since Nevada legalized cannabis in 2016. But cannabis driving-under-the-influence arrests are way up since that time.

The Reno City Council today heard an update on dispensaries, arrests and the process for opening cannabis lounges.

Figures presented by city staff show police arrested as many as 450 people for cannabis possession in 2012. That number dropped to seven this year.

Arrests declined shortly after the 2016 legalization by the Nevada legislature for people to possess and consume.

The council also heard that cannabis-related arrests for public consumption increased — most notably in 2018 with 153 arrests — while possession charges notably dropped.

Cannabis DUI arrests have tripled since the 2016 legalization. A peak of 55 arrests occurred 2016; however, there were 149 DUIs in 2018.

Staff noted post-legalization arrest figures have since declined. This year, there were 65 DUIs, seven possession arrests and nine public consumption arrests.

“It is on a downward trend,” said Lance Ferrato, the city’s business relations manager.

Consumption lounges on the horizon

Retail cannabis stores are limited to 10 in Reno. There are eight. The remaining two slots are up for consideration. The council considered how to proceed with granting licenses to the remaining two potential dispensaries. No action was taken.

Ferrato said a committee has been formed and is going to present recommendations to the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) in November about how to proceed with cannabis lounges.

A new Nevada law, effective Oct. 1, allows for the lounges. The city will have to create new regulations after the CCB creates statewide regulations governing the lounges.

“The CCB will be meeting in January to take those regulations … to come forward with new regulations,” Feratto said. He said applications for new lounges could start being accepted in March.

He said more information will be made available as that process unfolds.

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