Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SB 374 Passes Senate Overwhelmingly

In March, several Nevada legislators took a field trip to Arizona to study the implementation of that state's medical marijuana law. Last month, Senator Tick Segerblom's (D-Las Vegas) bill to authorize medical marijuana dispensaries, SB 374, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. And tonight, the full Senate finally passed the bill.

Backers said the measure, approved 17-4, establishes procedures to comply with a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2000 that allows the use of medical marijuana.

The bill would allow 40 clinics in the Las Vegas area, 20 in Reno, two in Carson City and one in each of Nevada’s remaining rural counties.

Sen. Mark Hutchinson, R-Las Vegas, said law enforcement was “comfortable” with the bill, which now goes to the Assembly. He noted that courts are dismissing cases in which businesses have been accused of illegally dispensing the drug.

The state Board of Pharmacy will regulate the dispensaries.

Only Senators Barbara Cegavske (R-Spring Valley), Don Gustavson (R-Sparks), James Settlemeyer (R-Minden), and Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City) voted against SB 374. All other Senators, including all top Senate Republicans, voted for the bill. The bill now moves to the Assembly with only five days left in the session.

Yet since this bill attracted such strong bipartisan support, it's hard to imagine this bill will run into all that much trouble in the Assembly in the final days of #NVLeg 2013. In addition, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) has been hinting at signing this bill into law. So do we have a done deal?

Perhaps so. After all, the state stands to collect $20,000 dispensary license fees and $5,000 renewal fees. And the state has been facing a law suit filed by the ACLU challenging current (convoluted) medical marijuana regulations.

So in the end, this is just making sense. Finally, Nevada's marijuana policy is about to get a healthy injection of common sense.

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