Medical Marijuana Legislation Passes

Senate Bill 374, a measure that would create a system of medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada, has now passed the House, gaining the needed 2/3rds majority vote to do so. It now heads back to the Senate, where an amendment added will be debated. If it passes this final hurdle, the measure will go to the Governor for final approval. (UPDATE: The measure passed and was signed into law June 13th.)

Medical marijuana has been legal in our state for more than a dozen years, but until now, the only legal way to obtain the drug was to grow it yourself. The system of dispensaries will have to be registered with the state and be geographically limited. This will help prevent an oversupply in one part of the state and a shortage in another. It may also trigger a “land grab” as dispensaries try to locate in the most populous areas.

The measure also puts a 2% sales tax on marijuana. This funding is meant to pay for regulating the dispensaries with overage going to Nevada schools (always a popular addition to a bill).

The bill doesn’t go into effect all at once, with major portions delayed until April of 2014 (and some parts not until April of 2016). Still, medical marijuana advocates see it as a huge step forward. Until now, Nevada was on the list of states with legal medical marijuana, but an impractical system. Other states are still struggling to find a way to supply their patients with the drug.

Ideally, at some point, prescription marijuana will join other drugs for sale in pharmacies. But this will depend on whether or not the federal government ever allows it. Unlike other medications prescribed by physicians, marijuana cannot go into the pharmacy supply chain because all pharmacies obtain a federally registered controlled substance license. The license would be put in jeopardy if they became involved in dispensing weed.


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