Nevada medical marijuana patients in need of cannabis will soon have legal storefronts to go to for safe access to their meds, though the tradeoff means the elimination of home growing.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 374 into law last night, creating a state-regulated system of growers, processers and dispensaries. The move also allows home growing only until 2016, when the dispensary program is expected to be fully functional.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal called Sandoval's approval a "surprise", mostly due to Sandoval's concern over the program's startup costs that he fears could run into the millions for taxpayers - all for the benefit of 3,785 medical marijuana patients in the state (Editor's note: If the recent history of other states holds true, you're about to get a whole lot more patients).
The idea is for the program to be self-funding and solely relies on license fees and tax revenue. There will be a 2 percent excise tax on both wholesale and retail sales. Three quarters of that is set aside for education while only 25 percent is set aside for running the program.
The dispensary bill was headed up Sen. Tick Segerblom, a democrat from Las Vegas, in response to a state Senate Judiciary Committee ruling in February that the state wasn't meeting it's obligations to medical marijuana patients. Nevada has had medical marijuana laws in place since 2001, but never clarified how patients can access the actual cannabis.
"I applaud the governor for recognizing it is time Nevada lived up to its constitutional mandate and provided access for patients who have legitimate medical needs for marijuana," Segerblom told the Review-Journal.
The bill saw widespread support, even drawing nods from the Las Vegas police department, Las Vegas police union and several Sheriff's groups. Now the program is in the hands of the state Health Division, which is charged with the rule making and details.
According to the Review-Journal, there could be as many as 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Nevada doesn't allow for reciprocation of medical marijuana cards from other states, so even though Las Vegas is a tourist
trap destination, those dispensaries would only be open to Nevada residents.
Nevada is the fourteenth state to allow some form of medical marijuana dispensaries.