A community education meeting for Nevada Natural Medicines’ grow facility attracted roughly two dozen curious residents to the Artesia Clubhouse on Friday.
Officials with the company spoke about all of the elements involved in cultivating medical marijuana at the Hafen Ranch Road facility.
Nevada Natural Medicines’ Scott Sibley said he thought the questions raised during the public meeting allowed for a better understanding of what residents in the area can expect when the facility begins operations early next year.
“There were legitimate concerns and I understand what they’re asking and I think part of it is just educating them and explaining to him how things are and what the impact is going to be to the environment,” he said. “I think we were able to answer all of their questions.”
At least one issue came percolating up several different times during the hour-plus meeting – water.
Sibley said Nevada Natural Medicines is well aware of water issues in Nye County and all of southern Nevada, while noting the company uses the latest state-of-the-art process for irrigation, with a strong emphasis on conservation.
“I’ve lived in Nevada for 25 years and I’m very conscientious of Nevada’s situation with water and on the entire west coast,” he said. “I was born in California and the west continually suffers from water issues. Water conservation is definitely a top priority for us.”
The irrigation system, known as HortiMax, is a leader in the horticulture irrigation industry.
Eisa Khoury was also on hand for the Nevada Natural Medicines public meeting.
Khoury said when the site is in full operation, water usage will be minimal as efforts are made to reuse the water.
He noted that the plants are not grown from the ground, but in containers, where the water funnels through, gets captured and reused with zero emissions.
“I just want to make it clear that when we say we use 500 gallons of water per day, that doesn’t mean we take 500 gallons of water out of the system every day because we fill up our tanks the first time with the 500 gallons of water and we are using that water and recycling it and pulling it back again so it’s a closed loop, very little waste.”
Khoury also said the growing process is roughly four months, from seed to harvest.
“The vegetation is for four weeks, which is the beginning and then it goes into a larger pot and that vegetates for another four weeks for a cycle of eight,” he said. “From there we take it into a different light cycle and that is for two months. So it takes from beginning to end about 4 months from seed to bud.”
Next year, Nevada voters will cast ballots on whether to make recreational marijuana legal.
Sibley said if the measure comes to pass, there will still be a need for some to acquire a medical marijuana card.
“In Colorado, the taxation mechanisms are significantly different versus recreational marijuana,” he said. “The medical marijuana is a prescription in itself so basically the doctor writes you a prescription and you go to the state and they convert your prescription into the card. That’s a one-time thing, but you have to get it renewed every year.”
Additionally, Sibley said work is already underway at the site to get it prepared for operations.
“We are dealing with the landscaping now and the next phase you’ll see is a nice block wall that will go up and as well with landscaping in front of it,” he said. “The building looks aesthetically pleasing to the community when people drive by.”
Despite numerous objections and concerns from local residents, Nye County commissioners granted a zone change in September as well as a special use permit application for the medical marijuana establishment.
The decision came roughly a month after the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission denied a zone change from neighborhood commercial, to commercial manufacturing.
At the time, Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said the new facility, like others, would boost the county’s economy.
“It’s going to be at least 20 jobs, it’s a tax base, and it’s a new industry,” he said. “It’s requiring a lot of investment and it’s gotten us a lot of jobs in this community over the last year just in construction.”
Sibley, meanwhile, said he plans to hold additional community education meetings in the near future.
“We plan to return here right around the first of the year as we progress,” he said. “We want to keep meeting with the neighbors and keep this discussion open and keep working with them.”
Contact Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sharrispvt