Lawmakers told medical marijuana law should mandate a way to get it
February 24, 2013
Nevada isn’t meeting the intent of a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana because there isn’t a legal way for patients to get the drug, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were told Friday.In Nevada, a patient suffering from chronic conditions such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or others can get a doctor’s certificate qualifying them to register and use marijuana to relieve their symptoms.Lawyer Gary Modaferri said a case involving to two men accused of illegally providing the drug to patients through a co-op is now before the Nevada Supreme Court after Clark County District Judge Donald Mosley threw out the case against them, describing the state law as “mind boggling.”Modaferri said the judge concluded that the laws barring distribution to those patients were “purposely constructed to frustrate” patients.He said Nevada law makes it legal for residents with a medical marijuana card to possess the drug, but illegal for them to obtain it. He said Mosley’s ruling essentially stated that the current law isn’t workable and doesn’t give people the access to the drug that the constitutional amendment contemplated.That, he argued, violates the spirit of what Nevadans voted into the constitution when they approved the medical marijuana ballot question.He received some support for that argument from Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas: “It really doesn’t matter how we feel about medical marijuana. It’s a constitutional mandate.”Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored legislation this session that would allow dispensaries to provide marijuana to valid medical marijuana cardholders, agreed the situation is impossible.“Even though the law says its legal to grow the seed, it’s illegal to get the seed,” he said.Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, the former U.S. Attorney for Nevada, said the current statutory situation is “hopelessly confusing and dysfunctional.”“The Justice Department is saying yes, we recognize it’s illegal and the DEA could come and knock down your door but we’re not going to do that,” he said. “That’s an untenable situation.”Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said ultimately the Supreme Court will probably have to decide the legality of state medical marijuana laws — or even the legality of states decriminalizing pot.Asked which states Nevada should look at for “best practices” in regulating the dispensing of medical marijuana, the committee was told by Karmen Hanson of the National Conference of State Legislatures that Colorado is probably the model. She said the “product” is highly controlled there to keep things up and up.“They have to account for literally every ounce of product,” she said. She also said it’s a local option in Colorado for communities to allow or bar dispensaries.But she said Colorado’s recent decision to decriminalize marijuana is new territory since medical dispensaries and recreational dispensaries can’t be one in the same and that the drug can’t be grown in the same place it is distributed.The meeting was designed as an informational session to get lawmakers up to speed on the issues surrounding medical marijuana. No action was taken.