Three separate pieces of legislation in Nevada intend to finally give patients safe access to medical cannabis.
For some, the goal is to kick start the medical program before the 2016 election, when Nevada citizens will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana.
“We want the voters to see what it’s like…so we need to get these things out there so folks can see these are not bad operations.”
Said marijuana advocate Sen. Tick Segerblom.
Washington and Colorado have already generated hundreds of millions of dollars from their recreational marijuana operations. Segerblom, a democrat, said Nevada has the potential to increase revenue as well.
“We are perfectly situated to take advantage of this for all kinds of reasons. For us not to have marijuana tourism when Colorado and Washington have it just makes no sense,” he said. “The reality is they’re already (smoking) it, we’re just not getting any tax revenue.”
Nevada Sen. Tick Segerblom and Ronald Dreher, government affairs director for Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada, pass by an area with marijuana plants under cultivation in Denver. (Photo by David Zalubowski)
The Euphoria Wellness dispensary is finally set to open in Las Vegas in the coming weeks. In the two years since the initial legislation passed, the industry has suffered significant growing pains. The 2013 law was written in a way that posed issues for businesses trying to get started.
Additionally, a Republican-led legislature took little interest in making any changes to the law and passed on a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana. These factors all led up to patients who are still waiting on access to medicine.
With the help of Sen. Patricia Farley, Segerblom pushed several bills through the state houses.
Senate Bill 447 permits growers to use certain pesticides, a common practice that states like California and Colorado allow but has been prohibited in Nevada. It also changed the way counterfeit patent registration cards and cannabis concentration production are handled on a criminal basis.
Senate Bill 276 allows for medical marijuana businesses to have some flexibility with their operations. For example, a company now can cash out shareholders who want to leave the industry or introduce new investors in order to grow capital.
Under the previous law, investors in medical marijuana businesses could not sell or transfer their piece of the company, whether it was a lab, growing facility or dispensary. Senate Bill 276 also enables a company to move locations within their licensed jurisdiction as long as the government approves.
Assembly Bill 70 will permit medical marijuana businesses to use third-party vendors – who must be registered with the state – in their operations. The practice was prohibited under the old law.
It used to be that anyone who was in a medical marijuana business and was not a patient had to be registered with the state as an employee or a volunteer. This bill started out addressing taxes on medical marijuana but was expanded to assist businesses.
“I think we made major improvements,” said Segerblom. “Everyone realizes (medical marijuana) is here, so now it’s become how can we make the business better? It’s more of a mentality about helping businesspeople as opposed to making marijuana more available.”