The Legislative Commission on Friday approved regulations designed to implement the new medical marijuana law without a single comment from lawmakers, formally putting the rules into effect.
When lawmakers want to talk about a proposed regulation, they pull it for discussion. The marijuana regulations were approved as part of a vote on a laundry list of unchallenged rules.
The regulations are designed to make medical marijuana available to people with certain medical conditions by licensing not only growers and producers of pot-laced edibles, but dispensaries to sell the drug to card-holders and labs to test the products.
Health Division Administrator Richard Whitley approved the regulations this month after an extensive series of hearings.
Joe Theile of the Health Division said at the approval hearing that Friday’s move doesn’t mean applications for permits and certificates to begin growing and selling the drug will be accepted anytime soon. He said the division is still in the process of hiring and training 12 inspectors and auditors for the program. That has to be completed before the division can actually license operators, Theile said.
Once everything is ready, the division hopes to announce the application period in May or June, Deputy Administrator Marla McDade Williams said. Under the law, all applications must be filed within a 10-day period.
She testified earlier that the way the law is written, counties don’t have the option of refusing to issue any licenses. But she said the state has no plans to force local governments to permit and license dispensaries or farms. The state will still process applications from jurisdictions that ban all licensing and send them to the county, she said.
If a county denies the application, it will be up to the applicant to decide how to proceed — including whether to sue.
Medical marijuana use and possession is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
In Nevada, voters approved the law in November 2000. It allows doctors to issue prescriptions for pot to patients with a variety of medical conditions including AIDS, glaucoma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, cancer and conditions that cause seizures and pain.
But until the 2013 Legislature approved Sen. Tick Segerblom’s bill, there was no way for patients with a medical marijuana card to legally get the drug.
The bill sets up a system similar to that operating in Arizona and sets out how many dispensary licenses can be issued in each county. For Carson City, the number is one.
The rules also set standards to ensure the product is safe and doesn’t contain contaminants and pollutants such as heavy metals.
Smoking pot is still not allowed in public even for card holders.
“If you’re walking through Mills Park smoking a joint, you’re going to be talking to one of my guys,” Sheriff Ken Furlong said in an earlier interview.
Recreational use of marijuana is legal in two states: Colorado and Washington. Backers of legalization say several other states are considering decriminalizing the recreational use of pot.
The federal government, however, still lists the drug as a “Schedule 1” substance, meaning it has no pharmaceutical value and is prohibited for any use, medical or otherwise. There is a growing push to persuade the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify marijuana at least as a drug with medical value.