Booming medical marijuana businesses continue to grow in the Valley
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
"Currently, you're surrounded by a lot of Double Dream, a lot of Blue Dream. We have Amnesia Lemon Haze growing right now. We have Girl Scout Cookies," said Drew Wilmeth.
I haven't transported you back to college. Drew is a master marijuana grower working at one of the five marijuana cultivation facilities up-and-running in North Las Vegas. He gave me a tour of his operation Tuesday.
"What we are growing in this room right now is cleaner than any head of lettuce, or any produce at your grocery store right now," said Wilmeth.
He works for a cultivation facility called Waveseer, located in a secure section of the Apex Industrial Park, off I-15. The plants being grown inside are destined for the company's medical marijuana dispensaries in Henderson and North Las Vegas.
To get inside, we had to wash our hands. We had to walk through a disinfectant bath for our shoes. This place is clean. Really clean. It should be since it's growing marijuana that will be used for medicine.
"Basically, every rafter, every beam, everything in this room has been cleaned with bleach and alcohol," Wilmeth says.
In 2000, Nevada voters approved medical marijuana, but it wasn't until 2013 that lawmakers made dispensaries legal. During the last legislative session, lawmakers ironed out kinks in the law, which allowed business to open starting in 2015.
For an industry taking baby steps, it's now more like a full-blown teenager, with roughly a dozen dispensaries operating in the Valley, and almost two dozen more licensed to do so. Other support businesses - labs, growing facilities, edibles manufacturers - are also popping up.
"We opened on December 10, so it's been six or seven weeks," said Andrew Jolley, the owner of The Source dispensary on Rainbow.
Like others, Jolley's is a modern, clean, secure and inviting facility, already developing a customer base.
"We see dozens of patients per day," said Jolley. "Some patients come in every couple of weeks. Some come in once a month."
The bottleneck that had been production - it takes time to grow marijuana - is easing. More cultivation facilities are in the works - 20 more, in North Las Vegas alone. The Source has its own growing operation.
"Our own cultivation facility just had its first harvest about ten days ago," Jolley said. "So we'll have our own products to sell within the next two weeks. I think a lot of other companies are in the same situation."
As a stopgap, The Source has been purchasing its marijuana from other licensed production facilities.
Nevada made sure that marijuana sent to dispensaries is up-to-snuff. In this state, regulation is very tight.
"Las Vegas and Nevada have the most stringent testing in the entire country. And to pass that testing, your facility has to be like a hospital," said Wilmeth.
As the industry matures, Jolley wants to see other rules evolve with it.
"The biggest challenge we face today is allowing patients to get their (medical marijuana) card in an efficient manner," said Jolley. "I think it's difficult to ask somebody to go through a two or three-month process when people are used to purchasing medicines within an hour or two."