A new building proposed across from the Pahrump landfill was the top choice for the sole medical marijuana dispensary license in Nye County, commissioners decided Wednesday, as business owners lined up to speak in a green rush for medical marijuana special use permits.
County commissioners debated sending letters to the state for the top three dispensary choices, but didn’t make a final decision. Commissioner Donna Cox suggested sending letters for all five, but Chairman Dan Schinhofen said that would negate all the deliberating done in the day-long session. Commissioners used a matrix to evaluate each applicant.
Commissioners heard talk about THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes users high and the chemical CBD that doesn’t. They heard applicants suggest armored car deliveries, with facilities surrounded by fences and patrolled by 24-hour security. Many prominent business owners in town emerged to get in on the lucrative business at the ground level.
MM Development LLC was the top choice of commissioners on property owned by Creekside Investments LLC, which includes John Shea, owner of C &S Waste Solutions, which operates Pahrump Valley Disposal and his partner, Dave Carroll of Carmel, Calif. They also earned the top ranking on applicants for a production and cultivation facility.
Bob Groesbeck, president of MM Development and governmental affairs manager for C &S Waste Solutions, said their team had 153 years of combined leadership in Nevada-owned businesses that paid a combined $122 million in taxes and financial contributions in the past five years. Groesbeck said they had cash on hand of a little more than $3 million and will build a 2,800 square-foot dispensary and a growing facility just shy of 19,000 square feet at the corner of Mesquite Avenue and Kitty Hawk.
Almost every applicant had a member who was actively involved in the medical marijuana business. Groesbeck said their master grower, Chris Wren, earned a trophy at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, “the Super Bowl of cannabis.”
After giving their application top ranking, Groesbeck said MM Development offered to pay for a traffic signal at Highway 160 and Mesquite Avenue.
Kim Clendennen, who lives in the area, objected to the project.
“I’m waiting on you guys to approve a slaughterhouse and a nuke plant up on the fan,” she said.
The Grove Wellness Center, a team consisting of the Focus Property Group developers, was the county’s second choice. They propose opening up just a dispensary in part of an unoccupied strip mall almost across the street from the Ian Deutch Government Center at 1541 E. Basin Ave., where the sheriff’s office and the courts are located. Attorney Mark Fiorentino said without participating members Dan Harris and Focus Property Group founder John Ritter, the Desert View Hospital wouldn’t have opened.
“Our goal is to provide the highest quality, most diverse product we can to patients at the lowest possible price. We are going to give priority to Nye County producers,” Fiorentino said.
He said his company is not anticipating any debt and has pre-funded roughly $2.5 million to the project, three times the first year operating cost.
“It’s right across the street from the sheriff’s office and station so virtually every sheriff’s deputy going in and out will have to pass this facility and it’s very visible from Basin (Avenue),” Fiorentino said. He said it exceeds separation requirements from churches, schools and community facilities.
The Grove anticipates hiring 14 employees. Fiorentino said they also applied for a dispensary, cultivation and production facility in Clark County.
A group that included 19-year Pahrump physician Dr. Pejman Bady, NuVeda LLC, was the third choice for a dispensary where Pahrump Valley Roasters was formerly located at 301 S. Oxbow Ave., and the second choice for a production and cultivation facility at 2801 E. Thousandaire Blvd. Bady introduced a high-powered team that included Chief Operating Officer Shane Terry, who was a combat veteran in charge of $5 billion in assets and personnel in Iraq; Chief Medical Officer Dr. Puya Mohajer; attorney Jennifer Goldstein; Ryan Winmill, president of The Winmill Group, who served three years for the secretary of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., and master botanist Steven Duarte.
Terry said they will take a pharmaceutical approach to cultivation. He said the group will create 75 jobs.
“We hope to inspire leadership and social responsibility,” Terry said. “Our mission is to think globally and act locally for our community.”
He said the cannabis industry is plagued by inefficiency and environmentally-damaging techniques, pledging LEED construction using a hybrid glass roof that would leverage the desert sun and require 50 to 75 percent less energy, resulting in lower costs to patients.
“We hope to re-establish industry standards and reinvent the cannabis industry in Nye County,” Terry said.
Advisor Kris Krane, co-founder of 4Front-Advisors.com, said they spent millions developing operational and training protocols. He said their team includes the executive director of one of the best medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco.
“We have created comprehensive operating protocols for all facets of a dispensary that includes a robust chain of custody protocols that ensures every gram is accounted for,” Terry said.
Winmill said they want sheriff’s deputes to know exactly how they’re moving their product. County Manager Pam Webster later suggested a requirement that all establishments notify the sheriff’s department when they plan shipments and file a plan with the sheriff’s office.
Team member James Davis said it would cost $2.9 million to build the first 30,000-square-foot building, but they have $11 million on hand.
Tom Saitta and Don Trudeau, co-owners of Saitta-Trudeau Chrysler Jeep Dodge, joined with former State Sen. Sandra Tiffany to apply for a dispensary and cultivation facility at 260 N. Emery St. They were ranked fourth for the dispensary and third for the cultivation facility, in the old Kawasaki dealership. Tiffany said Saitta and Trudeau recently bought the building.
“Since we own the building we have some relatively deep pockets that are going to help us with the construction side on the interior of the building,” Tiffany said. “We’ve got the dispensary and the cultivation together but we have done what I call right sizing.”
The dispensary is 1,400 square feet and the cultivation facility only 3,800 square feet, which Tiffany said is small, but their plan calls to expand as the demand dictates to a 2,000-square-foot dispensary and 5,200-square-foot cultivation facility. They plan to eventually produce more pounds of marijuana than their dispensary needs and sell it statewide.
“With us you get proven local business people who have been doing business in Pahrump for more than 12 years. In that time we employed more than 45 to 50 people with well-paid benefits,” Saitta said.”We’re one of the top sales tax contributors in the county and millions of sales tax dollars have stayed in the county to help with roads and schools.”
He said some of the other applicants are from outside the area, while their group will reinvest profits back into the community.
Team member Greg Goldston, with the Options Medical Center, said he has five years experience growing and selling medical marijuana with two stores in Boulder and Wheatridge, Colo. He started in 2010 with 60,000 flowering pots that employed six people and now employs 45 full-time employees with more than 60,000 square feet of grow space and more than 800,000 flowering pots that collectively serve 12,000 people plus.
“I’m one of the few operators in the state that offers a cancer program to buy patients their cannabis that are in active chemo. I do that on behalf of my brother-in-law’s name who died of brain cancer at the age of 39,” Goldston said.
Jan Jensen, owner of the Maverick Saloon and Dance Hall, ranked fifth and last in the group of dispensaries submited to the state, third among production facilities and fourth for cultivation facilities for her Nye County Wellness Center. She picked up a number of endorsements from residents under public comment.
Kathy Welsh said Jensen has supported the community for the past 15 years.
“I don’t care who the individual person is, it’s any person in the community who has any kind of need whatsoever. They can go to her and she will bust her butt to hold a fundraiser,” she said.
Jensen said she researched dispensaries, cultivation and use facilities in places like Colorado and California. The large building lends itself to a cultivation facility. Jensen also proposes partitioning the dispensary in a section of the building and production facility. Jensen said she would hire 80 people and include home delivery. Jensen said if she doesn’t get the dispensary license she’ll still run the cultivation and production.
Among cultivation applicants, Debbie Brooks was part of a team called ACC Industries that was tied for a fourth place ranking among growhouses. They want to grow marijuana in the old Skate Zone building at 1261 E. Calvada Blvd. ACC Chairman Howard Misle, who said he had 15 years in the cannabis industry, said they would create 60 jobs and they would donate money to drug intervention programs.
Misle said having a cultivation facility and their national headquarters here would “create a legacy for Pahrump as one of the most progressive cities in the world.”
Harborside Nevada Inc., was ranked fifth for production facilities and cultivation. They want to open in a 5,000-square-foot building at 800 S. Margaret St. behind the county auction building. Partner Ted Rebholz said they plan to invest $1.9 million, including a security fence. Rebholz said he worked in medical marijuana in California, serving 147,000 patients. It would hire 15 employees.
Green Life Productions LLC, which includes construction company owner Mike Floyd, ranked seventh in its application to open just a cultivation facility. They want to locate in an 8,700-square-foot building that was formerly part of Floyd’s Ace Hardware at 1201 S. Loop Rd., already enclosed by a six-foot fence. He cited 50 years of business experience in Pahrump with companies that paid $47 million in payroll. Floyd said they have an advantage in owning their own construction business.
Commissioner Frank Carbone questioned the experience of master grower Steve Cantwell and said people complained they would be next door to the Goodwill store. Floyd estimated hiring 10 to 15 employees during production.
C.W. Nevada LLC placed eighth among cultivation applicants and sixth for production facilities. Carbone said they need to spruce up the building for their project, in a greenhouse at 3171 E. Tillman St. Schinhofen said that street may need to be chip sealed. Their attorney, Nevada Senate Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said they could construct a metal structure. The team included Matt Cook, who said he was an architect of Colorado’s medical cannabis rules who was featured on 60 Minutes and Joel Stanley, who said he developed Charlotte’s Web, a strain made popular by CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stanley said they have a waiting list of 9,000 patients.
Attorney Mike McNerny, representing Wellness Orchards of Nevada LLC, said they will spend $400,000 to $500,000 to construct a manufactured building for a cultivation facility behind Pahrump Valley Auto Plaza at 801 S. Panorama Rd. creating 88 to 100 temporary construction jobs. Their application was only for cultivation, it ranked ninth. Managing member Paul Wells founded the Tropical RV dealership in Pahrump. Carbone said their budget projections don’t include hooking up to Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada.
The rest of the Pahrump cultivation applicants in order, included No. 10, Nevada Natural Medicines LLC, 9680 S. Oakridge Ave., which includes basil grower Champ Roach and Green Cross of America, in the old Nevada Bottling Company at 5101 S. Oakridge Ave. represented by Pete Gnecco and Phil Restifo.
Three Amargosa Valley growers included Acres Cultivation LLC , 950 E. Anvil Rd. in Amargosa Valley, ranked fifth among producers and sixth for cultivation; Symbiosis Ltd. of Amargosa Valley, which ranked 12th among cultivators and Nye Farm Tech Ltd., which suggested a site at 2811 W. Amargosa Farm Rd., that is owned by horticulturalist Dokmai Sullivan, ranked 13th among growers.
1. MM Development Company LLC
1530 E. Mesquite Ave. (new building across from landfill)
Bob Groesbeck, John Shea from C&S Waste Solutions
2. The Grove Wellness Center
1541 E. Basin Ave. (strip mall across from jail)
Focus Property Group – John Ritter, attorney Mark Fiorentino
3. Nu Veda LLC
301 S. Oxbow Ave.
Dr. Pejman Bady
260 N. Emery St. (old Kawasaki dealership)
Tom Saitta, Don Trudeau, Sandra Tiffany5. Jan Jensen
340 E. Mesquite Ave. (Maverick Saloon and Dance Hall)
1. MM Development Company LLC
2. NuVeda LLC
3. Jan Jensen
4. Acres Cultivation LLC
950 S. Anvil Rd., Amargosa Valley
Paris Balaurus, John Mueller
5. Harborside Nevada Inc.
800 S. Margaret St. (behind Nye County auction building)
Ted Rebholz, Kristen Nevezal
6. C.W. Nevada LLC
3171 E. Tillman St. (existing greenhouse)
Assemblyman William Horne, Matt Cook, Joel Stanley
1. MM Development Company LLC
2. The Grove Wellness Center
3. GWGA LLC
260 N.Emery St.
Tom Saitta, Don Trudeau , Sandra Tiffany
4. Jan Jensen
(tie) ACC Industries
1261 E. Calvada Blvd. (old Skate Zone building)
Howard Misle, Sam Boyer, Peter Seltzer, Debbie Brooks
6. Harborside Nevada Inc.
7. Acres Cultivation LLC
8. Green Life Productions LLC
9. C.W. Nevada LLC
10. Wellness Orchards of Nevada LLC
801 S. Panorama Rd. (new building behind Pahrump Valley Auto Plaza)
Attorney Mike McNerny, Paul Wells
11. Nevada Natural Medicines LLC
9680 S. Oakridge Ave. (existing greenhouse)
Champ Roach, Chris Shelton, Jake Salazar
12. Green Cross of America
5101 S. Oakridge Ave. (Old Nevada Bottling Co.)
Pete Gnecco, Phil Restifo
13. Symbiosis LLC
Weiss Blvd., Poplar Ave., Hope Lane, Amargosa Valley
Attorney Stephen Pingree
14. Nye Farm Tech Ltd.
2811 W. Amargosa Farm Rd., Amargosa Valley
Dokmai Sullivan, Joe Hahn engineer