New Nevada Attorney General's Medical Cannabis Stance Hurts California Patients
Medical cannabis dispensaries have existed in Nevada in one form or another for quite some time. For instance, I remember visiting Las Vegas in 2012 and seeing several locations pop up on WeedMaps.
I didn't visit any of the dispensaries (I wasn't even a registered patient at the time), but I do remember being surprised there were so many dispensaries just in Vegas alone.
But back then those dispensaries were operating in a grey area at best, or operating flat out illegally at worst.
One year after regulated safe access begins in Nevada
In the summer of 2015, the first regulated cannabis dispensary opened in Sparks, Nevada. Now there are dispensaries all over Nevada, with the largest concentration of dispensaries being in Las Vegas, for obvious reasons.
One of the provisions that makes Nevada's medical cannabis law better than some other states is reciprocity. Patients from other states with valid medical cannabis cards in their home state can make purchases at Nevada dispensaries.
A very key component of that provision, the valid medical cannabis card, has come up in the news lately. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services recently sought guidance from the Nevada Attorney General's office in regards to whether or not dispensaries can accept California doctor notes as proof of being a patient.
Unfortunately for California patients that rely on a doctor's note to purchase medical cannabis, those doctor's notes are no longer considered to be valid in the State of Nevada for the purpose of frequenting a dispensary.
Considering California's close proximity to Nevada, and the massive tourist population that comes to Nevada frequently, this is bad news.
Dispensary owners predict harm to patients
Owners of dispensaries in Nevada are already sounding off. A lot of patients travel from California to Nevada, and purchase medical cannabis while on vacation or traveling to Nevada for other purposes.
It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of California medical cannabis patients rely on a doctor's note instead of a card. This new decision is going to have a large impact on Nevada's growing medical cannabis industry. How large? Only time will tell.
Legalization is needed now more than ever
Nevada voters will see cannabis legalization for recreational purposes on the November ballot. The initiative would legalize up to one ounce of cannabis, and would provide for home cultivation for those living far away from stores.
The initiative would also create a taxed and regulated system for recreational cannabis stores. Patients would be able to acquire cannabis via those stores, regardless of if they have a doctor's note, official card, or not.
You can find out more about the campaign at this link here. The new Nevada guidance is just that - guidance. At any time the Nevada Attorney General could change its stance, although I don't expect that to happen any time soon.
Should California patients be able to use a doctor's note to make purchases at Nevada medical cannabis dispensaries?