There are many questions concerning the legality of, as well as other aspects of, Medical Marijuana and/or Medical Cannabis in Nevada. This is a somewhat tricky subject as the many of these laws are written in a manner which may be confusing to the average consumer. Hopefully, the following information will prove to be helpful in explaining some of the truths, as well as dispelling some of the myths, regarding Medical Marijuana and/or Medical Cannabis laws in Nevada.
In order to understand how the medical marijuana program works, a brief history should be provided as to the onset of marijuana and its use as a medicinal drug. Marijuana regulations of some form or another have been around since the early 20th century. However, the 20th century recognized several laws which would restrict specific classes of drugs from unregulated use in the United States.
For instance, in 1909, the first law specifically banning a substance was passed to outlaw opium smoking. It was mainly Chinese immigrants using this substance, mostly in San Francisco and in other West Coast locations.
In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act, which was a more broadly based ban on narcotics. It specifically regulated a class of drugs, the opiates, from being grown or distributed.
Then in 1919, the 18th amendment to the Constitution, the Volstead Act, banning the sale, production and transportation of alcohol in the United States, was passed. This Act was more commonly known as “Prohibition.”
The ban became impractical due to the widespread smuggling of alcohol from Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. This ban was repealed in December 1933 with the ratification of the 21st amendment to the Constitution.
The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937. This act made it illegal to grow or distribute marijuana unless the grower obtained a federal stamp. However, stamps were unavailable as there was no application process. Marijuana was therefore effectively outlawed by the necessary stamp being made unavailable.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 placed a number of mind-altering agents in Schedule I as they became available, including marijuana, Lyseric Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), and now the various mephadrones in “bath salts.”
On November 7, 2000 voters in Nevada passed Question 9, amending the state constitution to sanction medical cannabis. The vote was 65% yes to 35% no. Afterwards various statutes were put in place to regulate its use and possession, which have been amended through the years. The current law provides that patients may possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis and grow a maximum of 12 usable cannabis plants, as well as an amount of edible or infused products which are the “equivalent”(the term remains undefined) of 2 ½ ounces of usable marijuana. The amendment to the state constitution failed to address how one would legally obtain marijuana.
Article 4, Section 38, of the Constitution of the State of Nevada provides provisions for the use of plant of genus Cannabis for medical purposes. This articles further requires that the legislature provide by law for the use by a patient, upon the advice of his physician, of a plant of the genus Cannabis for the treatment or alleviation of cancer, glaucoma, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; severe, persistent nausea of cachexia resulting from these or other chronic or debilitating medical conditions; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizure; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscular spasticity; or other conditions approved pursuant to law for such treatment.
The article restricted the medical use of the plant by a minor unless said minor could obtain a diagnosis and written authorization by a physician, parental consent, and parental control of the acquisition and use of the plant.
The plant and property related to the plant’s relieved it from forfeiture except upon conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for possession or use not authorized.
Further, a registry of patients was required to be maintained, and their attendants, who are authorized to use the plant for a medical purpose, to which law enforcement officers may resort to verify a claim of authorization and which is otherwise confidential; and an authorization of appropriate methods for supply of the plant was required to patients authorized to use it.
The article did not authorize the use or possession of the plant for a purpose other than medical or use for a medical purpose in public. It specifically did not require reimbursement by an insurer for medical use of the
In 2013, more than a decade after voters approved the medical marijuana initiative, the Nevada Legislature finally allowed for safe, regulated access to medical cannabis. In addition to allowing medical cannabis dispensaries, the revised law provides protections for some out-of-state patients and increases cultivation and possession limits. Unfortunately, however, it will also prohibit some patients from growing their own medicine.
Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, but it’s still a topic of debate among many residents. With more dispensaries popping up every day, questions arise about how hard it is to get a hold of the legalized substance.
There are a limited number of conditions that qualify a patient for marijuana use.
- acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- cachexia (general physical wasting and malnutrition from chronic disease)
- persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
- seizures (including epilepsy)
- severe nausea
- severe pain (the most commonly reported condition)
- additional conditions, subject to approval by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health
A recommendation from a physician is an essential part of applying for a card. Not every doctor will recommend medical cannabis, so an Applicant may need to search for a doctor who will. The Department of Public and Behavioral Health is unable to provide doctor referrals. The physician’s statement will be filled out once the patient receives his or her application packet.
A person trying to get a marijuana prescription must pay $25 to obtain an application packet from the Nevada Division of Public
and Behavioral Health. They can request the application in the mail, or pick it up in person in Carson City. You then have to take that zpacket to you physician and work out your medical history and why you would need medical marijuana.
Applicants then have to send their application packet back to the state, along with an additional $75 fee. When the state receives their packet, processing and background checks can begin.
They check to make sure everything in the packet is accurate. They check if the doctor does have a license in Nevada, and that they do live where they say they live. They also check their background to make sure they don’t have any felonies on their record which would prohibit them from selling these substances.
The state is then supposed to notify people of their approval or denial within 30 days of receiving the application. However, the State has become backlogged with processing in the past. Accordingly, the process time can vary widely. It can be a couple weeks or a couple months. If patients are approved, they can head to the DMV to pick up their medical marijuana card. The DMV charges a $13.25 fee to have the card printed.
That brings the total cost of obtaining a medical marijuana card to $113.25. That amount does not include the cost of visiting a doctor for a referral letter.
The cannabis card is valid for one year, and when those 365 days pass, applicants must go through a renewal process and pay a referral fee of $75.
Doctors, however, cannot technically prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. A physician can write a letter that states: “I affirm this patient has one of these conditions,” but they cannot write a prescription. Many doctors in Nevada won’t even give their patients that recommendation.
Still, Nevada has a history of attempting to legalize marijuana recreationally, and hopefully in November of 2016, the citizens of Nevada will vote and make it legal.
This state is also slightly stricter about cause for DUI charges. While the rest of the west coast has a legal limit of 5 Nanograms/mL of blood, in Nevada it is 2 ng/ml. Also, the cultivation without a medical card is a felony.
There are countless offenses an one could be charged with for violations of the medical marijuana laws in the State of Nevada. Many of these offenses are outlined in the “Offenses” section of this site, and may help to further educate you as to the various penalties and consequences associated with marijuana laws in Nevada.
If you have been charged with a marijuana related offense, please call us at 702-405-0001 for a free consultation with an attorney.