Nevada’s medical marijuana law is unconstitutional, ACLU says
March 23, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada weighed in Friday on the state's medical marijuana law, calling it unconstitutional because it doesn't allow patients with prescriptions for medical marijuana to legally obtain it.
The filing Friday in the Nevada Supreme Court involving a Clark County case comes the same day a handful of state legislators visited a medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix to see how Arizona implemented its medical marijuana law, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000. But under existing law, patients essentially have to grow their own because there is no legal way to acquire it.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, organized the fact-finding trip. Lawmakers are paying their own way.
Segerblom is sponsoring SB374, a bill that would authorize and regulate nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries to serve about 3,600 Nevadans with medical marijuana cards.
"We're going to hear lots of reasons why we can't do it, we shouldn't do it, but to me, if Arizona, which is the most conservative state in the country, can do it, then Nevada can do it," Segerblom told the newspaper.
"It's not a junket. It's not taxpayer money, but it is a legitimate working trip to see it in person."
Traveling with Segerblom will be Sens. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas; Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas; David Parks, D-Las Vegas; Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas; and Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, R-Las Vegas.
"I want to learn more about these medical marijuana dispensaries," Kihuen said. "If it's a bill that we're going to consider here in the Legislature, in order for us to make an informed decision, we have to go out there to other states and see how they're doing it."
In Arizona, the hope is that the no-nonsense Maricopa County law enforcement and strait-laced dispensary operators can prove to Nevada legislators that medical marijuana dispensaries are safe and controlled.
A court challenge blaming the Nevada Legislature for a poorly written medical marijuana law adds gravity to the trip. A judge called the current laws "ridiculous" in a case that's before the Nevada Supreme Court.
The ACLU brief supports the decision of Clark County District Court Judge Donald Mosley, who ruled the Nevada law invalid in the case of two men indicted in connection with the operation of a nonprofit co-op to dispense the drug.
"There is no practical way to obtain medical marijuana in the state of Nevada," said Katrina M. Ross, staff attorney for the ACLU in Las Vegas.
The brief says the two men indicted by a Clark County grand jury "were prosecuted for behavior that is constitutionally protected."
After Mosley dismissed the indictment, the Clark County district attorney's office appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, which has not yet set a hearing date.