Dispensary bill and improved DUI bill making progress
Two bills that would vastly improve Nevada’s marijuana policy are making steady progress this legislative session. The first bill, SB 374, is sponsored by Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom and would authorize regulated medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada. As it currently stands, Nevada’s law provides no means by which patients can legally obtain their medicine other than home cultivation or from caregivers who cannot receive compensation. Last year, a Nevada judge called that “ridiculous” and “absurd” and called upon the legislature to pass a bill much like SB 374. Please urge your legislators to fix Nevada's medical marijuana law and support Sen. Segerblom's bill.
Another bill, AB 351, introduced by Assemblyman William C. Horne and Assemblyman Jason Frierson, exempts the state’s medical marijuana patients from the threshold limits for DUI. People should never drive while impaired. But both active and metabolized THC can remain in a person’s system for days (and in the case of metabolized THC, weeks) after ingestion. This makes practically every marijuana patient in the state a potential victim of the state’s DUI law, regardless of whether he or she is actually impaired while driving. AB 351 aims to fix this. The bill has passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate. Senator David Parks was added to the list of primary bill sponsors when it made the transition.
Unfortunately, another sensible bill, AB 402, sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Hogan, did not pass to the Senate in time for it to continue the legislative process. AB 402 would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol in Nevada. While the bill did not survive this year, the stage is set for another attempt during the next session.
Learn about Nevada's marijuana laws
Nevada is one of the 14 states that have decriminalized personal use marijuana possession, not including Washington and Colorado, who now tax and regulate use. 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 ask your legislators to follow the leads of Colorado and Washington by replacing prohibition with regulation.
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