Friday, March 22, 2013

High Times?

We've been waiting a long time for this. In 1998 and 2000, Nevada voters strongly approved the medicinal use of marijuana. Yet last year, a judge invalidated the law. Why? Patients are supposed to enjoy legal use of medical marijuana, yet there's currently no legal way to access it.

Enter Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and SB 374. He's even organizing a field trip to examine how a proper legal medical marijuana system works.

“We’re going to hear lots of reasons why we can’t do it (or) we shouldn’t do it, but to me, if Arizona, which is the most conservative state in the country, can do it, then Nevada can do it,” Segerblom said. “It’s not a junket. It’s not taxpayer money, but it is a legitimate working trip to see it in person.”

Traveling with Segerblom will be senators Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas; Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas; David Parks, D-Las Vegas; Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas; and Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, R-Las Vegas. The lawmakers are paying their own way; Segerblom’s campaign is paying for the bus. [...]

The state constitution makes it clear that the Legislature “shall” provide for use of medical marijuana, but Nevada law makes it difficult for patients to actually obtain the drug after they’ve paid application fees and received a card from the state’s health department, said Steve Yeager with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office.

“They are placed into a Catch-22 type situation because of the way the law is written,” he said. “That is, they have legal, state-recognized access to medical marijuana but no practical way to obtain it.”

Segerblom’s bill, Assembly Bill 374, would allow for the establishment and regulation of nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries for about 3,600 Nevadans with active medical marijuana cards.

Now, patients or their caregivers basically have to grow their own plants, which Yeager equates to a doctor ordering patients in pain to go home and manufacture their own pills without the convenience of a pharmacy.

In a bitterly contested ballot box battle, Prop 203 narrowly won in November 2010 in Arizona. It not only legalized medical marijuana in the state, but it also set up a dispensary system so that patients can safely and legally access the medicine they need. And so far, it seems to be working. And yes, it's working in Arizona.

And of course, it's working in California. That's where the medical marijuana movement began, as Prop 215 was the first successful (statewide) medical marijuana ballot initiative in 1996. But because it didn't set up a complete set of regulations, the California Legislature had to revisit the topic and pass SB 420. While some jurisdictions initially resisted the new patient ID card and legal dispensary system, it's now being implemented statewide. And as a result, there are far fewer medical marijuana related arrests.

This should be a no-brainer here in Nevada. Despite our state's supposed "live and let live" attitude, medical marijuana patients and providers are still being arrested and prosecuted for something that's supposed to be legal in this state! Something must change.

Of course, there's another option available for Nevada to take. Assembly Member Joe Hogan (D-Las Vegas) has introduced AB 402 to legalize and tax any use of marijuana. Last November, Colorado's Amendment 64 and (the State of) Washington's I-502 made history in that these were the first successful statewide initiatives to fully legalize marijuana use. As a result, Colorado and Washington will soon be collecting "marijuana tax", implementing safety regulations, and creating a comprehensive system for safe and legal distribution.

Why can't Nevada do that? Again, we're supposed to have this "storied libertarian history". But again, we've instead witnessed continued arrests and prosecutions of marijuana cases. They're clogging our criminal courts and costing the state and counties some serious money. Instead of continuing to throw away money on some puritanical ideal that will never be realized, why not just legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like we already do for alcohol and tobacco?

State legislators continue to pursue tax reform and ways to raise revenue to better fund our public infrastructure. One solution may be here. So why not just fix our currently confusing marijuana laws and start bringing our drug laws into the 21st century?

1 comment:

  1. Please Help Local Nevada Growers to Keep Their Right and Keep Growing – Change or Defeat SB 374!!!

    The poorly thought out Senate Bill 374 is slowly moving through Nevada’s inefficient legislative process and we have ONLY 2 WEEKS to persuade the sponsors to remove the amendment that will make home growing illegal or ask Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Judicial Committee to NOT PASS the bill as it is written.

    The bill wants to allow for dispensaries to open but makes personal home cultivation illegal.

    Please help!!! We are running out of time. A slot was done and our outrage was heard and responded to, but we need more voices to be heard!!! We NEED to send as many emails as possible to the email addresses of the both committees’ members (listed below) and urge them to NOT pass this unconstitutional bill that will marginalize law abiding patients and cut their access to the medication all together since they will no longer be able to afford it, as dispensary prices will have hefty fees on top of high prices.

    Please write short, effective but polite letters (rudeness and anger will only work against us at these crucial last weeks) to the addresses below and urge them NOT TO PASS THIS BILL until the NO GROW Amendment is REMOVED! ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    ALSO Please contact the bill’s sponsors and ask them to RECONSIDER the no grow amendment and REWRITE THE BILL at the following addresses:,,,,,

    And last but not the least PLEASE leave an ‘AGAINST’ comment here:

    (you can view existing comments here
    Just type sb374 in the window and click submit)

    Right now EVERY EMAIL COUNTS! SO send emails, call, ask your friends to do the same. We need to show that we will not just lay down and die. We ARE AGAINST this measure and NEED TO KNOW that!!!

    Together we can WIN!!!