Medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada for several years—since voters passed the legislation in 2000. But until now, the only legal access patients had to their medicine was by growing it themselves. Finally, lawmakers in the state have passed SB374, which legalizes dispensaries and will soon give registered medical marijuana patients the ability to purchase their pot legally.
Republican Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill last week which will impose fees and requirements, and set up the frame work for growers, dispensaries, and processors of medical marijuana in that state. Patients will be allowed to continue growing their own until 2016 under the new law.
Medical marijuana, which is legal in 19 states, offers a natural solution for numerous different diseases and pain conditions. But for 13 years, residents of Nevada had to wait for lawmakers to catch up. Even now, not all of them are convinced dispensaries are a smart way to go.
Some, for instance, are still making the tired argument that creating dispensaries will encourage rampant “drug use” and even crime. Apparently, these legislators fail to see that until now many of their patients were likely buying their pot on the black market.
“This new law will provide patients with the safe and reliable access to medical marijuana that they deserve,” said Karen O’Keefe, of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Regulating medical marijuana sales will also generate revenue and take a bite out of the state’s underground marijuana market.”
The marijuana will be taxed at all stages—from growing to processing, and selling—with the proceeds funding the dispensaries themselves. Any surplus will be sent into the education system. Of course we know some people will be getting rich off of this new profitable field.
Though legalizing dispensaries is still a far cry from all-out marijuana legalization that Washington and Colorado states implemented, it is a step in the right direction. As states continue to push back against the federal commitment to marijuana prohibition, we will hopefully get to a tipping point where the federal government realizes their resistance to the will of the people is futile.
Because the federal government maintains that marijuana is a dangerous, addictive Schedule I substance and has no medicinal value, states that pass medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana laws stand to face legal action from the feds. Though the feds have a legal ground to stand on, the states and people themselves support an end to prohibition now more than ever.