Las Vegas Senator Seeks to Authorize Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in NevadaBy Thomas H. Clarke February 25, 2013
LAS VEGAS, NV — Hoping to clear up some of the legal ambiguity surrounding Nevada’s medical marijuana law, state Senator Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has announced plans to introduce legislation that would authorize medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
Sen. Segerblom said his bill to regulate dispensaries would use Colorado’s medical marijuana law as a model, allowing the dispensaries to be for-profit.
“We’re going to have places you can go with a card where you can legally purchase marijuana,” Segerblom said. “It’ll be a for-profit. It won’t be a co-op. It won’t be run by the government … It’ll be taxed and the revenue will be used to do something good. Those are the details we haven’t gotten to yet.”
When sixty-five percent of voters approved Question 9 on November 7, 2000, there was no provision in the bill authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries. Patients or their caregivers are allowed to grow up to seven plants and possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
But because obtaining marijuana seeds is illegal, as well as difficult growing conditions in the Nevada desert, patients and lawmakers alike agree that access to medical marijuana is limited for the states 3,645 registered cardholders.
People with medical marijuana authorization in Nevada are stuck in a legal grey area, they say, and many are confused as to whether they have purchased marijuana illegally.
Last year, a Las Vegas district court judge declared Nevada’s medical marijuana law unconstitutional, while criticizing the state’s lack of a defined distribution system for the medicine.
In his decision, which is currently awaiting an appeal hearing by the state’s Supreme Court, Judge Donald Mosley was highly critical of the state’s medical marijuana law, saying it falls short in providing a “realistic manner” in which qualified patients can obtain their medicine.
During a three-hour Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Friday, lawmakers acknowledged it is nearly impossible for the patients legally authorized to use marijuana in the state to obtain their medicine.
Following the hearing, Sen. Segerblom announced his plans to introduce a bill that would authorize medical marijuana dispensaries, provide access to medication for registered patients, and help to clarify Nevada’s twelve-year old medical marijuana law.
“Let’s go back and do what we should have done 10 years ago,” Segerblom said. “It’s something that it’s time has come. Colorado has it. Arizona has it. California has it. Oregon has it. Washington State has it. We’re surrounded by it.”
The bill, he said, would strictly regulate for-profit dispensaries and would instruct Nevada’s Gaming Control Board to regulate the dispensaries as strictly as they monitor casino cages and count rooms, where “everything in and out” is carefully monitored. Currently, Nevada’s medical marijuana program is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Also among the requirements would be 24-hour video surveillance at farms and dispensaries.
The majority of patients registered with the Nevada state medical medical marijuana program are between the ages of 55 and 64, according to a report presented at Friday’s hearing.