The only state-licensed halfway house in Northern Nevada is hoping to fend off an unwelcome next-door neighbor — a marijuana dispensary.
The Reno City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 11 whether to approve the newest location of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, a company that already has three marijuana dispensaries in Southern Nevada and lists a Reno location on its website as “coming soon.” But The Empowerment Center, located 15 feet away from the dispensary, is urging council members to deny the license on the basis that it could pose too much of a temptation for clients at a vulnerable stage in their lives.
“For most, if not all clients, a dispensary will be a major trigger and may compromise their success in the program, their sobriety, and jeopardize the work they have already accomplished,” a board member and the executive director of the center wrote. “Something as simple as the smell that extends past a typical dispensary in Reno could be too much to bear for an individual recently in recovery.”
State law and Reno municipal code prevent dispensaries from setting up shop adjacent to a residential area, within 1,000 feet of a school, within 300 feet of a community facility or within 2,500 feet of another dispensary. A bill passed in the 2019 legislative session prevents dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of a casino.
An independent surveyor confirmed to the city in February that the proposed location, in an old Butcher Boy meat store at 7300 S. Virginia Street, did not run afoul of any of those restrictions.
But there’s no law that prevents a dispensary from opening next to halfway houses, Reno staff wrote. The residential treatment center purchased the location in 2010 and has 24 residents, but is not zoned for residential use.
City code, however, grants the council “broad authority and discretion” to deny a privileged marijuana dispensary license, staff noted. The council can deny any application deemed to be “not in the best interest of the welfare, health or safety of the city,” although the city would need to have “good cause” to do so and develop a substantial factual record to do so.
Officials at Thrive did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday about their response to the halfway house’s concerns, or whether they anticipated the conflict with their neighbors.
The Empowerment Center and its supporters are calling on the council to not only deny the dispensary’s request, but explicitly ban dispensaries within 600 feet of substance abuse treatment centers and halfway houses.
“If you are in support of recovery and desire to make a difference in our community, please take this opportunity to take a stand,” the organization’s leaders wrote.