Las Vegas looking to allow dispensaries
LAS VEGAS -- For 10 years, medical marijuana has been available to patients in Nevada. But availability isn't so easy. Patients are stuck with few options -- go to the street or grow your own pot. There is no legal way to buy medicine that doctors support.
Now change is coming, and dispensaries could be right around the corner.
Rhonda Shade thinks there are problems right now in the program itself. Her old marijuana club, Medicated Janes, was part of the city-wide crackdown last year by the IRS, DEA and Las Vegas police. The confusing statutes, contradictory laws and fear of arrest led her to become a lobbyist. Her main target and ally is Democratic Assemblyman Paul Aizley.
"What she described was pretty silly with what's going on. You know, the stuff is legal but you can't buy it," he said.
A decade ago, voters approved use of medical marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. But there was no rule in place for how to actually get the pot into the hands of patients.
"You can't buy the seeds and you can't buy the plants. So if you have them, apparently you didn't get them legally," said Aizley.
So BDR 912 was written to give local cities and counties the option to craft rules for dispensaries, expanding existing law.
"It adds a section to provide collective and cooperative assistance between legal patients," said Shade.
Aizley and Shade are quick to add that the shops cannot be with 1,000 feet of a school, church or youth center. But they want it to be a monetary winner for the state and county.
"If we strike the 'for consideration' line, it would allow the exchange -- the monetary exchange or other exchange for medical marijuana," said Shade.
The bill makes the dispensaries non-profits. That is expected to at least undercut the illegal grow houses and perhaps lower the street price, making pot less profitable. Aizley says it's also a tax revenue. But for the former math professor, money helps, but it's access that matters.
"I'm just trying to help the people that want this. My thinking is that if enough states do it, the feds might come along and realize that it's a valid drug for certain problems," he said.
Take away the stigma, control it, tax it, and let the police focus on criminals. "Like any other prescription drug, you get a note from your doctor, you buy it, you use it," said Aizley.
"There's a lot of sick people. There's dying people. They're uncomfortable people. And why should they wait any longer for a constitutional right that's been there for 10 years?" said Shade.
With the session still ramping up, it is unclear when the bill will get a hearing. This is the first major reform for years and it's rare for politicians to be so up front about this. Aizley is part of the majority in the Assembly, so the bill does have some life. Until then, buying pot, even as a patient, is illegal in Nevada.
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