In a storied and colorful 15-year history, Nevadans have gained the constitutional right to use medicinal marijuana. However, because of all the twists and turns the law has taken over the last 15+ years, many patients do not clearly understand what they are permitted to do and might get lost on their travels as they seek to find relief from medical marijuana.
The journey of medicinal marijuana in Nevada began in 2000 when a constitutional amendment was approved by 65 percent of the state’s voters. The amendment gave patients the legal right to use marijuana as medication. In 2001, the Nevada State Legislature jumped on the bandwagon and passed a law that created a system for qualifying patients to obtain a registry identification card to use medicinal marijuana for certain chronic and debilitating conditions.The law also permitted a patient to designate a caregiver.
To qualify as a patient one must:
- Be a resident of Nevada
- Be in the care of a Nevada licensed physician
- Be diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating condition including: AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea and severe pain
- Receive a recommendation stating that medical marijuana could mitigate the symptoms of the chronic or debilitating condition
- Register with Nevada’s Department of Public and Behavioral Health
- Obtain a valid registry identification card
A patient cannot be a caregiver and a caregiver can only be a caregiver to one cardholder. Furthermore, if the patient is under the age of 18, the patient’s custodial parent or guardian must give permission for the patient to obtain a medical marijuana registry identification card.
Despite the groundbreaking effort taken in 2000 by the voters that paved the way for the law in 2001, the medical marijuana road came to a dead end. Patients had no way to obtain or access medical marijuana except for growing at home — assuming, of course, they were able to navigate around the detour of legally obtaining seeds or clones without crossing state lines or purchasing from another patient.
For several years, patients had a constitutional right that they were not able to exercise and it was not until 2013 that the Nevada State Legislature decided to complete construction on the medical marijuana highway. In 2013, the Nevada Legislature passed amendments to the law that allowed for medical marijuana dispensaries to open and legally sell medical marijuana to Nevada patients (and out-of-state patients) who hold a valid medical marijuana card.
Although the path to legal dispensaries has been filled with potholes, legal medical marijuana dispensaries are anticipated to open in the fall of 2015, if not sooner. A qualified patient will be able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days. Furthermore, dispensaries can sell patients edibles and/or tinctures that have the same amount (up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days) of usable marijuana.
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