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Cannabis Dispensary Opens on Nevada/Utah Border



SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The first recreational marijuana dispensary opened Monday in a northeastern Nevada border city known for its casinos, but Utah residents considering making the 90-minute drive to West Wendover will have to be careful about where they use the pot if they go.

Nevada laws prohibit using marijuana in public or hotel rooms, and U.S. laws prohibit people from taking it across state lines to Utah, where only medical marijuana is legal. The new dispensary in West Wendover, Nevada, called Deep Roots Harvest, figures to get plenty of business from Utah residents waiting for Utah’s new medical marijuana program to roll out next year, said Christine Stenquist, the director and founder of advocacy group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, or TRUCE.

She said she’s already getting requests for carpools to West Wendover, which is about 125 miles (201 kilometers) west of Salt Lake City, making it the closest marijuana dispensary for people who live in northern Utah. Previously, people traveled nearly twice as far to cities in Colorado or southern Nevada, she said.

She is cautioning people to be careful and not to answer any questions until they have a lawyer if they are stopped on the highways. Utah’s law allows using medical marijuana in certain forms with a doctor’s note of permission, but there’s murkiness until the state issues patient cards and opens dispensaries. That’s scheduled to happen in the spring of 2020.

“We’re in a quasi-legal state right now,” Stenquist said. “They need to be wise. This is federally illegal.”

Utah Highway Patrol troopers are aware the dispensary opened but the agency hasn’t arranged any extra patrols or checkpoints and doesn’t plan to arrest people who have a doctor’s note and marijuana oils, tablets or other forms of the drug legal under state law, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street. But they will remain alert for impaired drivers who are coming back from West Wendover on Interstate 80, he said, and the law does prohibit smokable marijuana.

“It’s definitely on our radar. We’re concerned. It’s an impairing substance that is now recreationally available,” Street said. “We’re worried people will go over there and and consume it and try to hoof it home without letting the effects wear off.”

West Wendover officials are excited about adding a new draw to the city other than casinos, but they want their neighbors in Utah to be careful, said Mayor Daniel Corona.