With plenty of grow-worthy facilities and an eye to new revenues, North Las Vegas is embracing the marijuana industry
As North Las Vegas looks to its future, its focus is less on gaming than on Apex and Amazon — and, increasingly, on the cannabis industry, as a number of cultivations, production facilities, and dispensaries have dotted the city.
“We’re right up there with the county with the number of licenses,” says Alfredo Melesio of the North Las Vegas Land Development & Community Service Department. “We welcome them and are interested in making sure that industries find a home in North Las Vegas.” He notes that there are 72 licenses altogether for cultivation, production, and dispensaries — with more to be released later in the year.
But even more crucially, the city of 240,000 has plenty of industrial spaces that meet the requirements for the marijuana industry. In some cases, the spaces came before the businesses, as in how HOPE Cannabis came to open a facility in North Las Vegas. “The simple answer is the children’s game of pin the tail on the donkey — my partner and I own a commercial-industrial building in North Las Vegas that turned out to be the donkey,” says founder Dr. Howard Rubin. “It was the perfect location, met all of the distance requirements, and we converted our building into a multiple marijuana cultivation and production facility,” making vape pens and cannabis-infused coffee.
It’s a similar story for Flora Vega cultivators. “My family has had numerous businesses in North Las Vegas for more than 30 years,” says general manager Nick Puliz. “Part of the reason we got into the industry to begin with was that we had a bunch of big warehouses that were perfect for indoor growing. We had the connection with the mayor and the city of North Las Vegas because we’ve been up here so long.”
The city, he says, has been “very helpful.” Indeed, as the cannabis industry becomes more established, city staff has gotten used to its special requirements. “We know what questions to ask, and we know what to expect,” Melesio says. “We’ve gotten used to how they renovate facilities and working with them.”
Beyond cultivation and production, a number of dispensaries have made a home in North Las Vegas, where the customer base is somewhat different than is found closer to the Strip. “Our North Las Vegas location is almost all local business, with regulars who come in every couple of days,” says Mike Pizzo of Reef Dispensaries. He adds that, “Interestingly enough, North Las Vegas began to allow 24-hour dispensaries before Las Vegas, so Reef NLV was one of the first to be open all night.”
It’s a distinctly different attitude than Henderson on the opposite side of the valley, which put a six-month moratorium on recreational cannabis licenses and, even now, only has a smattering of dispensaries. It’s also different than the atmosphere in Clark County and the City of Las Vegas, where the number of hoops to jump through can feel like a trip through Cirque du Soleil. “We are a lean and agile organization, and I think we can help customers more easily. It’s a one-stop shop, we’re all right here on the first floor,” Melesio says. The revenue generated by these businesses is also welcome in a city where finances have sometimes been a struggle. “At the end of the day, in fees, it’s about $700,000 per quarter coming in for North Las Vegas residents,” he adds.
And while few businesses are thrilled to pay those bills, Aaron McCrary of Zion Gardens, a cultivator in the area, says it helps to know he’s supporting the community. “I grew up in a neighborhood that’s very similar, not to where North Las Vegas is headed, but where North Las Vegas has traditionally been. (If) these large revenue streams are flowing, I’d like them to flow to a community where they will have maximum effect.”
As those revenue streams continue to flow and grow, the flourishing of the cannabis industry could also bring new growth to North Las Vegas — growth that has made them a welcome and increasingly important part of the community. “We’ve worked with people through the whole process,” Melesio says. “We’re definitely open for business, and we’re interested in making sure industries find a home in North Las Vegas.”