Update: Nevada's law for legally dispensing medical marijuana went into effect on April 1, 2014. It provides the framework for growing, selling, taxing, and testing medical marijuana. Local governments can set up the rules for medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions, or opt not to allow such establishments. Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County have all indicated that they will permit medical marijuana to be sold, with facilities licensed and open for business some time in late 2014. Note that Nevada's law is not the same as legal recreational marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington. Such use remains illegal in Nevada.
About the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program
The Nevada Medical Marijuana Program, adopted in 2001 by 65% of the voters, is administered by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. How the program works is defined by Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 453A.
In early 2014, there were over 5,100 people registered with the program, with the numbers increasing each month. The Medical Marijuana Program website has specific information about applying for a card. Be aware that applicants are basically on their own - the state provides little assistance to those wishing to participate in the program. To learn more, read the online FAQ or call the program office at (775) 687-7594.
Applying to the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program
To obtain a medical marijuana card, Nevada citizens must have been diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition as defined in NRS 453A.050. Some of these include cancer, glaucoma, cachexia, seizures, severe nausea, severe pain, and persistent muscle spasms such as caused by multiple sclerosis.
To obtain an application for the Medical Marijuana Program, send a written request, along with a check or money order for $50, payable to the Nevada State Health Division, to...
Nevada State Health Division
4150 Technology Way, Suite 104
Carson City, NV 89706
Written requests must include...
- Mailing address for sending the application.
- If a caregiver is involved, ask for a caregiver packet.
- If the application is for someone other than the person making the request, include that person's name and address.
- If the application is for a minor, request for minor release.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Nevada
There are no medical marijuana dispensaries in the northern Nevada / Reno region and a few in the Las Vegas area. Since the law does not specifically provide for dispensaries, these have run into issues with law enforcement. How this plays out remains to be determined. The program does, however, allow registered card holders to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to have under cultivation up to three mature plants and four immature plants. The sale and possession of black market marijuana remains illegal for everyone, registered card holder or not.
Warnings and Disclaimers from the State of Nevada
Nevada Medical Marijuana Program cards are only valid in Nevada. There are no reciprocal agreements with any other states.
Users of medical marijuana in Nevada are on their own when it comes to liability issues. NRS 453A.810 states, "The state must not be held responsible for any deleterious outcomes from the medical use of marijuana by any person."
Having a medical marijuana card does not exempt you from Nevada laws applying to marijuana. It only allows you to possess...
- One ounce of usable marijuana (NRS 453A.160).
- Three mature marijuana plants (NAC 453A.080, sec. 2).
- Four immature marijuana plants (NAC 453A.080, sec. 1).
Medical Marijuana and the Federal Government
Nevada is one of 17 states and the District of Columbia with laws allowing the legal use of marijuana for specified medical purposes. Because state laws are in conflict with federal marijuana laws, users have been subject to arrest and prosecution by the federal government. However, an enforcement policy change has removed this threat for now. The U.S. Department of Justice has directed federal prosecutors to back off on chasing down people and their suppliers who are using marijuana legally under their respective state laws. The policy was explained in a press release from Attorney General Eric Holder - "It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal. This balanced policy formalizes a sensible approach that the Department has been following since January (2009) - effectively focus our resources on serious drug traffickers while taking into account state and local laws."
More About Medical Marijuana
The topic of medical marijuana touches us across a wide spectrum of issues, from law enforcement to death and dying. Here are some articles from a variety of About.com guidesites...
- Medicinal Marijuana: A Continuing Controversy
- What is Medical Marijuana?
- What are the Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana?
- Why is Marijuana Illegal?
Sources: Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice, Reno Gazette-Journal.