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?