Gov. Sandoval signs dispensary bill into law!
The 2013 legislative session saw great success for sensible marijuana reform in Nevada, with both the Senate and Assembly passing SB 374, a bill that establishes a framework for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate statewide. Republican Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law on June 12, 13 years after voters approved Question 9, a state constitutional amendment mandating that the legislature allow “appropriate methods” of supply for medical marijuana. The new law provides for the creation of up to 66 dispensaries that will be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the law, dispensaries will be required to adhere to certain regulations, such as growing marijuana in a secure location and maintaining video surveillance on operations.
In response to SB 374, some localities have imposed moratoriums on applications for medical marijuana-related business permits and licenses. On September 18, the Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously to impose a six-month moratorium on applications for medical marijuana permits and licenses. The measure includes a provision that allows the city to extend the moratorium for another six months. The moratorium prevents potential dispensary owners from applying for permits and licenses until the spring of 2014 or later.
On October 4, Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) released an 80-page draft of the medical marijuana regulations. There have been public hearings to discuss these rules, and a final draft of the rules is projected to come out toward the end of 2013. DPBH is expected to adopt regulations on April 1, 2014, and dispensaries should begin operating some time in late 2014.
Learn about Nevada's marijuana laws
Nevada is one of the 15 states that have decriminalized personal use marijuana possession. In addition to those 15 states, Washington and Colorado now tax and regulate marijuana for legal use by adults 21 and older. In Nevada, first offense possession of one ounce is punishable by a $600 fine instead of jail time, but it remains a misdemeanor, and the individual is subject to arrest and drug addiction screening that could lead to mandatory treatment and rehabilitation. A second offense carries a $1,000 fine and drug addiction screening. The penalties for third and fourth offenses continue to worsen. Possession of two ounces could land Nevadans in jail for four years!
In spite of its decriminalization, there were still over 9,300 marijuana-related arrests in Nevada in 2011, and nearly 90% of them were for marijuana possession. Most Americans now believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. There is still room for vast improvement in Nevada. Please be sure to ask your legislators legalize marijuana for adults' use and to regulate it like alcohol.
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