Nevada Legislature Approves Licensing For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

More than a decade ago, Nevada removed criminal penalties for medical marijuana when it amended its state Constitution to recognize its medical use. The amendment, however, did not create a legal mechanism for distributing cannabis — only for home growing or obtaining it from a designated “caregiver.” A law passed by the Nevada legislature this week would create a system for state-regulated dispensaries, eliminating the legal gray area that has plagued several states with medical marijuana laws. If Gov. Brian Sandoval signs the law, Nevada would become the 14th state out of 19 whose medical marijuana law licenses dispensaries. The recreational marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado also regulate dispensaries. Sandoval has not said whether he will sign the law, but has previously said he was open to medical marijuana dispensaries. A similar law that would have created state-wide oversight of medical marijuana distribution stalled in California this week, leaving in place the patchwork of local laws that now govern California medical marijuana.

Nevada’s action marks the maturity of the medical marijuana movement, as states that have seen benefits from medical marijuana programs move to further legitimize and regulate the industry. Other state bills to broaden medical marijuana programs have expanded the types of medical conditions covered by state laws, and implemented driving under the influence provisions.

A survey released this week by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 78 percent of doctors in the world, and 76 percent on the United States, said they would prescribe marijuana to their patients. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), meanwhile, whose state Assembly passed a medical marijuana bill this week, called the medical use of cannabis “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.”