Medical marijuana dispensaries, farms and testing facilities all became legal yesterday in Nevada, though it could take months before any of them open to the general public.
The state Legislative Commission adopted the final rules for the industry Monday, beginning the licensing phase for cities and counties across the state that have chosen to allow the businesses to operate.
“A lot of local jurisdictions said they wanted to wait until the state regulations were adopted,” said State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a huge supporter of medical cannabis in Nevada and author of the 2013 bill that legalized dispensaries. “Well, now they are adopted. We’ve waited 14 years. It’s time to get moving.”
According to Segerblom, Clark County is the only state governing body that has begun to write medical marijuana rules and laws at the county level – a requirement before dispensaries can even begin applying. The counties and cities will have 45-day heads-up from the state before the state begins taking applications. The state Health Department will then only accept them for ten days after the application period ends. Any dispensaries that apply after that will wait through a 90-day period for a decision.
Dispensaries would then be able to start growing cannabis if their application is approved. All cannabis sold has to be tested, so the testing facilities have to come online before any of that herb can be sold.
State officials say they expect somewhere around 425 applications to come in. That means they’ll have to hire some 27 new employees to help manage the paperwork. State officials say they will be done with the hiring sometime in June. After that, they say they’ll be read to start the approval process.
The new laws allow cities to implement medical marijuana business bans as well as gives them the ability to place moratoriums on businesses. Several cities and counties took that option, wanting to wait and see how state laws played out before moving forward at the local level. Reno, for example, won’t take up medical marijuana regulation until May – and even then, they could heavily restrict it.
“It is hard to say as to what the council’s direction might be,” Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “But the one thing they care about is that they want us to make sure we completely research this issue and understand all of the things that are impacted because they want to make an informed decision. They don’t want to go into this thing willy-nilly.”
Medical marijuana laws were approved by Nevada voters in 2000, but a 2012 ruling from the state courts said that patients didn’t have any legal access to medication. Because purchasing cannabis from someone off the street remained illegal, lawmakers were charged with creating a legal point of access through dispensaries.