It’s up to Gov. Brian Sandoval to allow or deny establishment of a legal system providing marijuana to Nevadans who need it for medical reasons.
Senate Bill 374 received final legislative approval Monday, the final day of the session.
The measure creates three types of entities: licensing cultivators, those who produce edible products, and dispensaries to provide the drug to those holding medical marijuana cards issued by the state.
Author Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, argued when he introduced the bill that Nevada voters a dozen years ago legalized the use and possession of marijuana for medical purposes and directed the Legislature to provide a way for patients to get the drug. Lawmakers had never done so.
That argument was made on the Senate floor by Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, who said he believes it is the Legislature’s constitutional responsibility to obey the wishes of the voters no matter what he personally thinks of marijuana use. With his and other Republican support, the measure passed that house 17-4.
The margin was tighter in the Assembly, where Republicans held together. But Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, voted with Democrats to provide the two-thirds 28-14 vote needed to pass the measure.
Sandoval’s staff has been vague on whether the governor will sign the bill, saying the governor needs to review it.
The bill would impose a 2 percent tax on each wholesale sale of marijuana in any form and a 2 percent excise tax on the retail sale of marijuana products, in addition to the sales and use taxes otherwise imposed.
It would require dispensaries to use an independent testing laboratory to ensure the products sold are tested for content, quality and potency.
Under terms of the bill, Clark County could have up to 40 dispensaries, Washoe County up to 10 and Carson City two. Each small county could have a single dispensary.
It would create an advisory commission to study the medical use of marijuana and how well the law is working.
The system contained in SB374 is modeled after Arizona’s system, which lawmakers led by Segerblom checked out in person early in the session. He says the system is as well-regulated as pharmacies to prevent the uncontrolled regulation that exists in California from ever happening in Nevada.